US$38-Billion-Endowed Harvard Says It Will Keep US$8.6 Million For COVID-19 ‘Relief’


By Ifeoma Asika

Although President Donald Trump has called on Harvard University, which has a US$38.3 billion endowment, to return the US$8.6 million it received through the coronavirus relief bill, the school says it will not comply because all of the funds apparently are going to help students who need financial aid.

As the Harvard dispute unfolds, it is important to note that just about every institution of higher learning in the United States received funds through the US$2.2 trillion CARES Act, about US$14 billion total, according to the Department of Education.

The money is distributed through the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund using a formula based on student enrollment, said Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. Of the amount allocated to each institution under this formula, at least 50 percent must be reserved to provide students with emergency financial aid grants to help cover expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to coronavirus.

Harvard University has the largest endowment of any university or college in the nation, at US$38.3 billion in fiscal year 2018, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education. Harvard received US$8,655,748 in coronavirus relief funds, according to the allocation chart posted by the Department of Education.

In addition to Harvard, other higher education entities with multi-billion-dollar endowments also received funds through the CARES Act. These included Yale, Princeton, MIT, Stanford, Duke, Dartmouth, and the University of Chicago, among many other schools.

Below is a list of the 15 colleges in the United States with the largest endowments, as reported in FY2018, (first dollar figure) and the amount of coronavirus funds they received (second dollar figure)through the CARES Act. (Data are from the Chronicle of Higher Education and the Department of Education.)

1. Harvard University US$38,303,383,000 endowment … US$8,655,748 virus relief

2. U. of Texas system US$30,886,018,000 … US$172,500,000

3. Yale University US$29,351,100,000 … US$6,851,139

4. Stanford University US$26,464,912,000 … US$7,376,668

5. Princeton University US$26,464,912,000 … US$2,424,099

6. MIT US$16,529,432,000 … US$5,045,387

7. U. of Pennsylvania US$13,777,44,000 … US$9,907,683

8. Texas A&M U., system, foundations US$13,524,947,000 … US$112,000,000

9. U. of Michigan US$11,901,760,000 … US$36,833,336

10. Northwestern University US$11,087,659,000 … US$8,521,175

11. U. of California US$11,008,035,000 … US$260,289,151

12. Columbia University US$10,869,245,000 … US$12,830,199

13. U. of Notre Dame US$10,727,653,000 … US$5,793,244

14. Duke University US$8,524,846,000 … US$6,714,022

15. U. of Chicago US$7,928,485,000 … US$6,207,010

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