Harvard University announced in a statement Wednesday that it will no longer “seek or accept” aid from the CARES Act Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund, one day after President Trump demanded the Ivy League school return federal relief cash.
The prestigious university had received nearly $9 million in federal funds through one of the government’s relief programs doled out through the Department of Education, but the allocation drew backlash from Trump.
The president on Tuesday claimed the university was receiving money through the Paycheck Protection Program, which is intended to help struggling small businesses. Harvard has denied ever applying for or receiving any funds through PPP, and has clarified that the type of funding it received was given to most other U.S. colleges and universities, to be used for direct financial assistance to students and to cover costs incurred by the schools due to the coronavirus.
As the pandemic initially began forcing businesses and schools to shutter, Harvard announced a plan in March to provide university employees with 30 days of paid leave with benefits without accounting for the gap between then and the end of the academic year.
Workers petitioned the wealthy university, which has received a $40 billion endowment, to extend the payments until the end of May. Eventually, Harvard extended its pay policy to just that.
“We have previously said that Harvard, like other institutions, will face significant financial challenges due to the pandemic and economic crisis it has caused,” Harvard spokesman Jason Newton said in a statement Wednesday. “We are also concerned however, that the intense focus by politicians and others on Harvard in connection with this program may undermine participation in a relief effort that Congress created and the President signed into law for the purpose of helping students and institutions whose financial challenges in the coming months may be most severe.”
Newton added, “As a result of this, and the evolving guidance being issued around use of the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund, Harvard has decided not to seek or accept the funds allocated to it by statute.”
The $2 trillion CARES Act included $14 billion in its Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund.
Stanford University and Princeton University both announced they would not accept CARES funding either earlier on Wednesday.
Harvard had stated a day earlier that it intended to use 100 percent of the funds to assist students “facing urgent financial needs” due to the coronavirus.
Author: Vandana Rambaran