President Donald Trump called for Harvard University to return the funds it received under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, but the university said that it had received the funds fairly and allocated them to provide assistance for its students.
“Harvard is going to pay back the money. And they shouldn’t be taking it,” Trump said.
“I’m not going to mention any other names, but when I saw Harvard, they have a — one of the largest endowments anywhere in the country, maybe in the world, I guess. And they’re going to pay back that money.”
“They shouldn’t have taken it,” he added.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the intent of the Paycheck Protection Program under the CARES Act was to help struggling small businesses, not “big public companies that have access to capital.”
“And not for Harvard, you might say, Steve,” Trump said.
In a statement Tuesday night, a Harvard spokesman said that the nearly $9 million the university received came from the CARES Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund and not the PPP.
“Harvard did not apply for, nor has it received any funds through the U.S. Small Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program for small businesses,” Harvard spokesman Jason Newton said, according to Fox News.
“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.”
The Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund includes $14 billion in aid for universities and at least 50 percent of the money received needs to be allocated to financial aid for students.
Newton said that Harvard is using “100 percent of these emergency higher education funds” for financial assistance for its students.
“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,” he said.
Trump fired back on Twitter, criticizing the university for taking the money even though it had an endowment of approximately $41 billion as of June 2019.
“Harvard should give back the money now,” Trump tweeted. “Their whole ‘endowment’ system should be looked at!”
Harvard should give back the money now. Their whole “endowment” system should be looked at! https://t.co/LcjOcsnCWT
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 22, 2020
Harvard was not the only university to receive money through the CARES Act Trump signed into law last month.
Arizona State University received the largest allocation because it has 83,000 students, 40,000 of which are low-income students, according to The New York Times.
The amount of money Harvard received was comparable to other Ivy League schools. Cornell and Columbia received about $12.8 million each and Yale received $6.8 million.
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