After much debate and criticism from the president, Harvard is saying “no thanks” to the coronavirus relief funding, worth $8.6 million

During a Tuesday White House briefing, a reporter asked President Trump if big companies would return the money they received through the small-business loan program. President Trump brought up Harvard and mentioned the endowment of $40.9 billion last year.

The Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund makes up about $14 billion of the $2.2 trillion stimulus package. Harvard initially said it planned to use the funds to provide assistance to students facing urgent financial needs due to COVID-19.

President Trump stated, “Harvard’s going to pay back the money. They shouldn’t be taking it. I’m not going to mention any other names, but when I saw Harvard — they have one of the largest endowments anywhere in the country, maybe in the world, I guess. They’re going to pay back that money.”

On Wednesday, the university announced a reversal statement and declared that they would not take the money. “[We are] concerned … that the intense focus by politicians and others on Harvard in connection with this program may undermine participation in a relief effort that Congress created and the President signed into law for the purpose of helping students and institutions whose financial challenges in the coming months may be most severe,” the statement read.

As a result, Harvard decided not to seek or accept the funds allocated to it by statute. Other universities followed suit, like Princeton and Stanford.

Government payout to colleges all depend on their enrollment size, and the number of Pell Grants – however, endowments are not taken into consideration. There is concern regarding smaller universities.