US President Donald Trump this week urged the elite university to return more than $8 million of COVID-19 stimulus funding.
"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," Harvard said on Wednesday. "Harvard has decided not to seek or accept the funds allocated to it by statute."
Representatives of the school suggested that the intense focus by politicians – without mentioning Trump by name - and others regarding the school's connection to the program could undermine participation in a relief effort to help students and institutions whose financial challenges in the coming months are the most severe.
The university also said it will also ask the Department of Education to reallocate any money earmarked for Harvard to students with a real financial need.
Trump and other critics have called on Harvard and other leading US universities with large endowments to return coronavirus relief payments – in Harvard’s case about $8.7 million – even though the school had yet to receive money allocated in the CARES Act.