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Harvard Nets Nearly $9 Million in Coronavirus Aid from Federal CARES Act

Harvard will receive millions in funding via a national coronavirus stimulus package.
Harvard will receive millions in funding via a national coronavirus stimulus package. By Camille G. Caldera
By Ellen M. Burstein and Camille G. Caldera, Crimson Staff Writers

Harvard University will receive nearly $9 million in aid from the federal government through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, the Department of Education announced last week.

The CARES Act — the largest economic stimulus package in American history — was signed into law on March 27. It allocates nearly $14 billion to support higher education institutions during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Of the $8,655,748 Harvard is slated to receive, the government has mandated that at least half — $4,327,874 — be reserved for emergency financial aid grants to students.

The Department of Education will distribute the first $6.28 billion to colleges and universities to cover expenses such as course materials, technology, food, and housing students have incurred “related to disruptions in their education due to the COVID-19 outbreak,” according to a April 9 press release.

The Department of Education is requiring universities to sign a certification agreeing to the conditions of use before they can access the funding, but each school may allocate the financial aid funds at their own discretion.

The Department of Education allocated most of the $14 billion in funds based on two factors: the share of recipients of federal Pell Grants, and overall undergraduate and graduate enrollment numbers. It weighted the proportion of Pell Grant recipients as a factor at 75 percent, while enrollment was weighted at 25 percent.

As a result, the top 20 colleges which received the most funding are all public colleges and universities with enrollments in the tens or hundreds of thousands. Arizona State University received the largest relief package of any institution in the nation, netting more than $63 million.

Harvard’s aid package is the third-largest of the Ivy League universities’. Columbia University and Cornell University will receive the largest awards, at $12.8 million each. Yale University will receive nearly $7 million, and Princeton University will net around $2.5 million.

In an April 9 letter to college and university presidents, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos encouraged administrators to set a maximum amount for individual student aid grants.

“I would like to encourage the leadership of each institution to prioritize your students with the greatest need, but at the same time consider establishing a maximum funding threshold for each student to ensure that these funds are distributed as widely as possible,” DeVos wrote.

DaVos also wrote that the Department of Education is “working expeditiously to allocate the remaining funding that is reserved for institutional use.”

In addition to aid to colleges and universities, the CARES Act included student loan relief and other provisions aimed at alleviating students’ financial hardship.

Experts say that Harvard will likely continue to face “grave” financial consequences as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

University administrators announced salary and hiring freezes, discretionary spending reductions, leadership salary cuts, and the potential deferral of capital projects in an email to Harvard affiliates Monday.

The University will also sell $1.1 billion in bonds, according to a report last week from Moody’s Investors Service.

Its flagship faculty, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, has already netted $30 million in expenses and lost revenue due to the pandemic, leaving it unable to cover its yearly budget, FAS Dean Claudine Gay announced last week.

—Staff writer Ellen M. Burstein can be reached at ellen.burstein@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @ellenburstein.

—Staff writer Camille G. Caldera can be reached at camille.caldera@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @camille_caldera.

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PoliticsFederal State RelationsUniversity FinancesUniversityFront Middle FeatureCoronavirusCoronavirus Feature