Northwestern University has decided not to accept $8.5 million in federal stimulus money that it was allocated as part of an economic-relief package designed to provide help to institutions of higher education that have been hit financially by the coronavirus pandemic.
The money would have come from the $2.2 trillion CARES Act, of which $14 billion was earmarked for colleges and universities. Schools were allotted the money based on their size and number of students they teach from low-income backgrounds.
If the schools accepted the funding, half would have been required to be given as grants to students who are struggling financially. About 20,000 undergraduate and graduate students were enrolled at Northwestern last fall.
“After careful consideration, Northwestern University determined we are unable to accept the requirements and evolving guidance regarding the CARES Act,” university spokesman Jon Yates said in an emailed statement. “Therefore, the University has decided not to apply for or receive the funds allocated to us.”
Yates declined to answer additional questions, saying that the university “will not be elaborating on the statement.”
The university’s decision not to accept the money comes after other wealthy schools, including Harvard, Princeton, Stanford, Yale and Duke universities, also decided to give back the funding or not accept it in the first place.
Those decisions came after public outcry and criticism from President Donald Trump, who said Harvard should not have taken the funding, due to its nearly $40 billion endowment.
Northwestern’s endowment was $11.1 billion last year, the 12th largest in the nation.
The University of Chicago stands to receive $6.2 million in federal funding, according to government records.
Officials told the Sun-Times Wednesday they are still determining how to move forward.
“The University is continuing to evaluate this issue, and has not received funds from the act,” UChicago spokesman Gerald McSwiggan said.