Several Senate and House Republicans have voiced their frustration after Harvard University was granted millions in federal emergency aid despite the elite school’s enormous wealth.
According to a list (pdf) released earlier this month by the U.S. Department of Education, Harvard is entitled to roughly $8.6 million in the first round of federal aid for America’s higher education institutions. At least half of those funds is mandated to be reserved for emergency cash grants to students.
At least five members of Congress, including Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Reps. Mark Green (R-Tenn.) and Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), took to Twitter to question whether the wealthiest school in the nation should be receiving any federal bailout money.
“This is ridiculous. Taxpayer relief funds should go to those in real need,” wrote Cruz, a Harvard Law School alumni. “Harvard University has a $41bn endowment—the largest in the world. Put another way, Harvard’s endowment is $13mm per student, or $171mm per faculty member.”
Harvard’s endowment was valued at $40.9 billion by the end of 2019—the largest among all eight Ivy League schools, according to Business Insider.
“Millions have lost their job. Small businesses are suffering & trying to stay alive. Meanwhile, Harvard, with its $40B endowment, just got $9M in taxpayer money,” Scott wrote on Twitter. “The CARES Act was necessary to save our economy. This kind of waste from the federal government IS NOT NECESSARY.”
Both Cruz and Scott voted for the CARES Act, a $2.2 trillion aid package bill, in an effort to ease the economic stress on Americans caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus pandemic. Of the $14 billion the CARES Act allocated for higher education, $6.3 billion has been distributed to colleges and universities to cover expenses students have incurred due to the outbreak, including course materials, technology, food, housing, and healthcare. How much money each institution will receive is based on a Congress-approved formula, which is weighted toward institutions that enroll more low-income Pell Grant recipients.
Meanwhile, Harvard president Lawrence Bacow, who has recently recovered from the CCP virus, announced last week that the university would place a freeze on salaries and hiring, cancel discretionary spending, and possibly defer all capital projects.
Harvard officials claimed in an email to affiliates that the school’s $40.9 billion endowments has limited use in the current situation.
“Some of you may be wondering why we can’t just dip into the endowment to support us through these difficult times. We do intend to distribute as much from the endowment as we responsibly can, but there are limitations to the endowment’s capacity,” they wrote, reported student newspaper Harvard Crimson. “Because of the recent declines in the markets, the endowment, while still large, is not as large as it was previously.”
Bacow also said that layoffs or furloughs are possible and that the university will analyze its budget for fiscal year 2021 to determine if additional steps are required to manage with the economic impact of the pandemic.