Harvard is under attack for the $9 million in stimulus money it’s getting from the federal government. “America’s Richest University Grabs Nearly $9 Million In Taxpayer Aid,” blasted a Huffington Post headline yesterday. On Comedy Central last night, Trevor Noah said Harvard was “just being greedy.” Donald Trump Jr. tweeted that Harvard was getting cash that should have gone to “a small business that actually needs the money.”
But according to a statement emailed late yesterday by spokesman Jason Newton, Harvard won’t use any of its $9 million stimulus check to make up for losses it has absorbed since it moved classes online in mid-March. “Harvard is actually allocating 100% of the funds to financial assistance for students to meet their urgent needs in the face of this pandemic,” says the statement.
How did Harvard decide to pass all the money to students, who made the call, and when? Was it in response to criticism? “I’m not going to get into when the decision was made,” says Newton. Harvard declined repeated requests to interview President Lawrence Bacow and other university officials.
On March 27, Congress passed the $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, including a provision that directs $12.5 billion in federal aid to some 5,000 institutions of higher education. The amount each school could receive was based on a formula hastily devised by Congress.
The enrollment-based formula favors schools with large numbers of students on federal Pell grants, which are awarded to students from low- and moderate-income families. Harvard, including its business, law medical and other graduate schools, has 24,000 students. The undergraduate enrollment is 6,700. Sixteen percent of Harvard students are on Pell grants.
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