Northwestern University is rejecting the $8.5 million in federal assistance it was allotted earlier this month to help those adversely affected financially by the coronavirus pandemic, school officials said Tuesday.
The $2.2 trillion CARES Act, the economic rescue package passed by Congress earlier this month, offers $14 billion to the nation’s colleges and universities. Schools were allotted varying sums based on their size and the number of students they teach from poorer backgrounds.
The higher education funding was meant to help colleges and students facing financial losses triggered by the pandemic. If colleges accept the funding, they’re required to spend at least half on direct grants for students.
In a statement released by spokesman Jon Yates, Northwestern decided not to apply for or receive the funds allocated in the CARES Act after determining it couldn’t accept the act’s requirements and "evolving guidance.”
The university’s announcement follows similar decisions made by officials at Harvard, Princeton, Stanford, Yale, Duke universities and the University of Pennsylvania.
The decisions of the universities not accept CARES Act funds came after President Donald Trump criticized the availability of the funds to Harvard, which he said "shouldn’t be taking” its share because it has deep financial reserves and has a nearly $40 billion endowment. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos added that other rich schools should reject the funding, contending affluent schools do not primarily serve low-income students.
Northwestern’s endowment was about $11.1 billion in fiscal year 2019, making it the 12th largest in the nation. There were about 20,000 undergraduate and graduate student enrolled in the fall 2019, according the university.