By Marianne Lu
Stanford asked the Department of Education to rescind its application for relief funds under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the University announced in a statement this morning.
Stanford was slated to receive almost $7.4 million in aid from the federal government through the legislation, which allocates nearly $14 billion to support higher education institutions during COVID-19 pandemic. The government stipulated that at least half of the funds be reserved for emergency financial aid grants to students.
The University, which has an endowment valued at $27.7 billion in August 2019, asked the education department to rescind its application for funds on Monday, according to the announcement.
President Trump on Tuesday called out Harvard for having “taken” funds despite their ample endowment, valued at around $41 billion before COVID-19 hit. The distribution of federal relief funds to large restaurant chains also drew criticism earlier this week, with Shake Shack announcing it would return the funds it had received.
“Harvard is going to pay back the money,” the president said. “And they shouldn’t be taking it. So, Harvard is going to. You have a number of them. 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.”
Harvard said on Wednesday that it had not requested or received the $8.6 million allocated to it, and that it would not accept the funds, the New York Times reported.
The statement from Stanford on Wednesday said that the University was facing “significant financial pressures” — citing lost revenue, increased costs and an economic downturn — but called the COVID-19 crisis an “existential threat” for many smaller colleges and universities in the United States.
“We believe strongly in the importance of keeping these institutions viable in order to provide access to higher education for as many students as possible, and we had concluded that this should be a priority,” reads Stanford’s announcement. “Therefore, Monday morning we contacted the Department of Education to ask that our application for relief funds under the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund section of the CARES act be rescinded.”
Stanford spokesperson E.J. Miranda did not respond to a request for more information about Stanford’s contact with the federal government.
On Tuesday the Undergraduate Senate discussed recommendations for how the University should allocate the resources, including directing funds toward student workers.
Stanford’s announcement said that the University remains “fully committed to the financial aid that has been promised” to students.