Harvard University announced in a statement Wednesday that it will no longer "seek or accept" aid from the CARES Act Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund, one day after President Trump demanded the Ivy League school return federal relief cash.
Harvard received nearly $9 million in federal funds through one of the government's relief programs doled out through the Department of Education, but the allocation to the prestigious university drew backlash from Trump, who claimed the university was receiving money through the Paycheck Protection Program instead, which is intended to help struggling small businesses.
Harvard has denied ever applying for or receiving any funds through the PPP administered by the Small Business Administration through local banks, and has instead clarified in recent days that the funding they received was similar to that given to most other colleges and universities to be used for direct financial assistance to students and to cover costs incurred by the schools due to the COVID-19 pandemic
As the pandemic initially began forcing businesses and schools to shutter, Harvard announced a plan in March to provide university employees with 30 days of paid leave with benefits without accounting for the gap between then and the end of the academic year.
Workers petitioned the wealthy university, which receives a $40 billion endowment to extend the payments until the end of May. Eventually, Harvard extended its pay policy to just that.
"We have previously said that Harvard, like other institutions, will face significant financial challenges due to the pandemic and economic crisis it has caused," Harvard spokesman Jason Newton said in a statement on Wednesday. "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," Newton added.
Stanford University and Princeton University both announced they would not accept CARES funding either earlier on Wednesday.
This is a developing story; check back for updates. Fox Business' Blake Burman contributed to this report.