Harvard, Princeton To Reject Coronavirus Funding As Other Ivy League Schools Say They Will Keep The Funds

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  • The eight Ivy League schools were allocated a combined $61.7 million in federal coronavirus funding, despite controlling endowments with a combined value of over $140 billion as of 2019.
  • Harvard University and Princeton University announced Wednesday that they will not accept the taxpayer-funded money allocated to them through the CARES Act.
  • But Cornell and Brown Universities told the Daily Caller News Foundation they would be keeping their federal CARES funding.

Harvard and Princeton Universities announced Wednesday that they will not accept millions of dollars in taxpayer-funded coronavirus stimulus funding.

News that the Ivy League schools will not accept the funding came after the Daily Caller News Foundation reported Tuesday that the eight schools that make up the Ivy League were allocated a combined $61.7 million in funding from the CARES Act, despite controlling endowments with a combined value in 2019 of over $140 billion. (RELATED: Trump Tells Harvard To Give Back Its Coronavirus Relief Money)

President Donald Trump singled out Harvard during a press conference Tuesday, noting that the school was set to receive millions in taxpayer funding despite controlling a $40 billion endowment, one of the largest college endowments in the world.

“Harvard’s going to pay back the money,” Trump 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.”

Five Ivy League schools posted operational surpluses of over $200 million in 2019, according to their financial statements from that year.

Dartmouth College, which posted a more moderate operational surplus of $32.6 million in 2019, has not determined whether it will accept the $3.4 million in CARES Act funding it has been allocated, Associate Vice President for Communications Diana Lawrence told the DCNF on Wednesday.

Cornell University, which was one of the two Ivy League schools that posted operational losses in 2019, told the DCNF on Wednesday that it would keep all the $12.8 million it’s slated to receive from the CARES Act, and pledged to use 100% of the funds to support its students.

“Cornell has a need-blind admissions policy and we commit to meet the full financial needs of our students,” spokeswoman Rebecca Valli said in a statement to the DCNF.

The university is anticipating a $100 million shortfall this coming fiscal year due to coronavirus, but the school still aims “to guarantee that every single one, currently enrolled or newly admitted, has the financial resources to complete their Cornell education,” she added.

The CARES Act will provide nearly $14 billion to more than 5,000 universities across the nation, according to the Education Department. The funds are set to be distributed to schools formulaically based on the number of Pell Grant recipients at each institution and their total student enrollment. The formula, which Congress set, does not take into account a school’s financial well-being.

School Endowment Value as of 2019 Operational Surplus (Deficit) 2019 Federal CARES Allocation
Brown University $4,200,000,000 ($25,362,000) $4,842,231
Columbia University $10,950,000,000 $222,949,000 $12,830,199
Cornell University $7,300,000,000 ($104,236,000) $12,800,980
Dartmouth College $5,700,000,000 $32,607,000 $3,429,350
Harvard University $40,900,000,000 $297,900,000 $8,655,748
University of Pennsylvania $14,700,000,000 $519,173,000 $9,907,683
Princeton University $26,100,000,000 $405,536,000 $2,424,099
Yale University $30,300,000,000 $270,491,000 $6,851,139

Sources: Department of Education, Brown University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Harvard University, University of Pennsylvania, Princeton University, Yale University

Harvard spokesman Jason Newton told the DCNF on Wednesday that “there has been confusion in recent days about funds allocated to Harvard as part of the CARES Act” and that Harvard neither applied for the support nor has requestedreceived or accessed these funds.”

He added that though Harvard will face significant financial challenges during the pandemic, Harvard has decided not to either seek or accept the funds allocated through the CARES Act due to “intense pressure” from politicians and “evolving guidance” from the Department of Education.

This reference to “evolving guidance” might refer to Tuesday evening clarification from the Education Department that only American citizens qualify for funding from the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund.

“We will inform the Department of Education of our decision and encourage the department to act swiftly to reallocate resources previously allocated to Harvard,” Newton said, adding that Harvard hopes special consideration will be given to Massachusetts institutions struggling to serve their communities. (RELATED: ‘Leave The $$ For Those With The Greatest Need!’ DeVos Applauds Stanford For Surrendering Coronavirus Funds, Calls On Harvard To Follow)

Newton had previously said Monday that the school would give 100% of its $8.6 million federal funding package to its students with urgent financial needs amid the pandemic.

Princeton announced the same news Wednesday, clarifying in a tweet that the university will not accept the funding and that Princeton has neither requested nor received any of the funding. The university specifically noted that Princeton is committed to supporting its students, “including DACA beneficiaries and international students.”

A Brown University spokeswoman previously told the DCNF that its $4.8 million CARES Act package would be used to help sustain its commitment to offer “generous financial aid” to its students in financial need.

Asked Wednesday whether Harvard’s and Princeton’s decisions would impact Brown’s acceptance of the funds, spokeswoman Cass Cliatt added that the university is assessing whether it would be fulfilling Congress’s intent to “support the highest need students in the country” by accepting the funds.

Columbia University, Yale University and the University of Pennsylvania have not responded to multiple requests for comment.

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