Harvard, Princeton and Stanford Refuse Federal Coronavirus Relief Money

Harvard University Wednesday announced that it would not apply for $8.6 million in federal funds it is eligible to receive from the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund.

The fund makes $14 billion available to colleges and universities from the $2 trillion Coronavirus economic stimulus package passed by Congress.

Thousands of colleges and universities are eligible for the funds. They must spend half the money on students adversely affected by the coronavirus. The other half may be spent on their operations if the school has been adversely affected by the pandemic.

The funds are allocated according to a formula that takes into account the number of students at an institution who received federal Pell grants and the total number of students attending that college or university.

President Trump claimed Tuesday that Harvard had taken money from another fund destined for small businesses.

Harvard never received any money from that fund. Nor, the university says, did it ever apply for, much less receive, funds made available under the higher education fund.

In a statement Wednesday, Harvard said it is concerned "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."

Harvard says it hopes the Department of Education will give special consideration to Massachusetts institutions that are struggling to meet the needs of their students.

Stanford University had already applied for at least some of the $7.6 million allocated to it, but announced that it had asked the Department of Education rescind its application for the funds.

Princeton University on Wednesday tweeted that it has not requested any of the more than $2.4 million it was allocated, and that it would not accept any of the funds.


Fred Thys Reporter
Fred Thys reported on politics and higher education for WBUR.



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