President Donald Trump made an announcement during the coronavirus task force briefings on Tuesday that Harvard University will be returning the millions in coronavirus relief money after a public outcry that the money didn’t go to smaller businesses.
“Harvard is gonna pay back the money. They shouldn’t be taking it. So, Harvard is going to. You have a number of, I’m not gonna mention any other names,” he said.
The White House then tweeted that Harvard has one of the largest foundations anywhere in the country and does not intend on keeping the money for small business loans. Harvard was singled out on social media as an example of the unfair distribution of the relief funds since they do have a $40 billion endowment they can lean on.
Forbes education editor Susan Adams outlines this endowment and how it could help the students and cover any of its own new expenses resulting in the pandemic. A Harvard representative says that the school deserves the funding because they had been hit with extraordinary expenses from the coronavirus pandemic lockdown.
Harvard then later came out in a tweet saying “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 college added. “Like most colleges and universities, Harvard has been allocated funds as part of the CARES Act Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund.”
The CARES act provides $14 billion in assistance to colleges and universities with the stipulation that half of the money must be used for emergency financial aid for undergraduate and graduate students. This will help cover expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to coronavirus.
In an email to the Harvard Crimson, the university newspaper, spokesman Jason Newton said that Harvard is allocating 100% of the funds to financial assistance for students to meet their urgent needs in the face of this pandemic. The funds include travel assistance, direct aid for living expenses to those in need, and supporting students’ transition to online education.
Dagen McDowell, American anchor and analyst on the Fox Business Network, condemned large banks for stalling on getting funds out to businesses, while praising small community banks that worked to help at a much faster rate.
Senate Republicans passed a bill to refund the relief program and provide more money to distressed businesses during the coronavirus pandemic. The Senate then passed the roughly $480 billion coronavirus relief bill by voice vote which gives $380 billion to the PPP to provide crucial small business support to keep workers on the payroll, $75 billion to support hospitals, and $25 billion to support coronavirus testing standards.