Last Updated on April 27, 2020
President Donald J. Trump made clear in his press briefing that grant money that was allotted to Harvard University was meant for businesses who would be forced to shut down without the aid.
“They [Harvard University] have one of the largest endowments anywhere in the country, maybe in the world, I guess, and they’re going to pay back that money. They shouldn’t have taken it.”
“Harvard’s going to pay back the money and they shouldn’t be taking it,” as Trump explains to the press at the White House briefing.
Harvard University has $41 Billon in their endowment fund, and they still took from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Relief Fund. These 12 billion in funds are separate from the Paycheck Protection Program, which is also now out of money.
“I’m asking people to remember the intent of this money was for businesses that needed the money, ”Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said. “Not big public companies that have access to capital.”
Shake Shack, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, and Potbelly Sandwiches have also received public scrutiny for receiving these same forgivable loans for small businesses in crisis. Shake Shack has so far been the only company to commit to return their loan which amounted to $10 million dollars.
Mnuchin believes these companies took advantage of the CARES program. The Treasury Department will be releasing an FAQ that will limit the amount of money a big company can receive according to Mnuchin.
The initial reaction of Harvard on Monday was defensive of their use of the aid money. According to Jonathan Swain of the Harvard Public Affairs and Communications Department they intended to use the money for student aid.
“Harvard has committed that 100 percent of these emergency higher education funds will be used to provide direct assistance to students facing urgent financial needs due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
By Wednesday Harvard committed to return CARES money.
Although their own Public Affairs and Communications Department had a prepared statement outlining the purpose of their aid money, the official Facebook post claims that they had not applied for money that would go to businesses, but instead applied for money that could have been used by smaller schools that do not have Harvard’s massive endowments.
After days of criticism, Harvard is now officially committed to returning all of the $9 million in relief funds.