President Donald Trump says that Harvard will have to pay back the relief money it received from the coronavirus stimulus package, according to The New York Times.
The President’s comments come after the university, the richest in the country with its $40.9 billion endowment (as of June 2019), drew sharp criticism for receiving $8.6 million from the coronavirus stimulus package that Trump signed last month.
“Harvard’s going to pay back the money,” the President said. “They have one of the largest endowments anywhere in the country, maybe in the world, I guess, and they’re going to pay back that money.”
But Trump appeared to confuse where the relief money came from, suggesting it came from a federal fund for small businesses, something the university was quick to correct.
“Harvard did not apply for, nor has it received any funds through the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program for small businesses,” Harvard spokesperson Jason Newton said. “Reports saying otherwise are inaccurate. President Trump is right that it would not have been appropriate for our institution to receive funds that were designated for struggling small businesses.”
Moreover, according to the Times, the Department of Education said that the method for distributing the relief money to universities was set by Congress and could not be changed. Harvard, for its part, has said it would keep the money and allocate it in its entirety to students who need it.
“This financial assistance will be on top of the support the university has already provided to students—including assistance with travel, providing direct aid for living expenses to those with need and supporting students’ transition to online education,” Newton added.
The formula used to allocate funds favored schools with a large number of students who receive federal Pell Grants.
As a result some Ivy League schools, and less prestigious schools as well, received a comparable amount of relief funds. Stanford got $7.3 million, while Central Connecticut State University got $9 million.
Arizona State University received the most relief money, $63.5 million, according to the Times, with 40,000 of its 83,000 students being considered low income.