BOSTON (CBS) – Harvard University now says it will not accept the $8.6 million in emergency funds allocated to it by the federal government after President Donald Trump and others in his administration criticized the school.

“Harvard is going to pay back the money. They shouldn’t be taking it. Harvard’s going to. When I saw Harvard, they have one of the largest endowments in the country maybe the world, and they’re going to pay back that money,” President Trump said at his Tuesday press briefing.

Education Sec. Betsy DeVos on Wednesday tweeted that “wealthy institutions like @Harvard don’t need this money” and should not accept it.

Harvard, which has about a $40 billion endowment, said earlier Wednesday it had committed the funds to assisting students with urgent financial needs. But later in the day the school changed course, and said it will not accept or seek the CARES Act funding.

Read the full statement from Harvard below:

There has been confusion in recent days about funds allocated to Harvard as part of the CARES Act.

Like most colleges and universities, Harvard has been allocated funds as part of the CARES Act Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund. Harvard did not apply for this support, nor has it requested, received or accessed these funds.

We have previously said that Harvard, like other institutions, will face significant financial challenges due to the pandemic and economic crisis it has caused. We are also concerned however, 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. As a result of this, and the evolving guidance being issued around use of the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund, Harvard has decided not to seek or accept the funds allocated to it by statute.

We will inform the Department of Education of our decision and encourage the department to act swiftly to reallocate resources previously allocated to Harvard. While we understand any reallocation of these resources is a matter for the Department of Education, we hope that special consideration will be given to Massachusetts institutions that are struggling to serve their communities and meet the needs of their students through these difficult and challenging times.

Harvard remains fully committed to providing the financial support that it has promised to its students.

  1. JOHN TREVER says:

    My wife is a union food services worker at Harvard. She has been on paid furlough with health benefits from March and won’t be going back to work at least until June. Harvard is continuing to help her work toward her GED with weekly on line sessions with a math tutor through their Bridge program for adult education. We really appreciate and depend on Harvard’s generosity. For us, the federal money Harvard has accepted is well spent.

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