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Dems send $168 million in 'relief' to elite Ivies with endowments worth more than $140 billion

Taxpayers continue to subsidize the schools, most of which have seen their endowments grow this year.

Updated: April 11, 2021 - 11:30am

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

The Golden Horseshoe is a weekly designation from Just the News intended to highlight egregious examples of wasteful taxpayer spending by the government. The award is named for the horseshoe-shaped toilet seats for military airplanes that cost the Pentagon a whopping $640 each back in the 1980s.

This week, our award is going to the United States Congress for allocating nearly $170 million  for emergency funding to be distributed among Ivy League universities, some with endowments larger than the total assets managed by some mid-size investment funds.

The most recent "coronavirus relief bill" cost just under $2 trillion, placing significant upward pressure on the already-skyrocketing national debt. The Biden administration's opening salvo was criticized for being packed with spending only tenuously related to the pandemic, including $86 billion to bail out union pension funds and $1.5 billion for Amtrak (a pet cause of President Biden, dubbed "Amtrak Joe" during his Senate years for his daily rail commutes between Washington and his Wilmington, Del. home).

Last spring, American colleges and universities received $14 billion in funding from the CARES Act. In December, the same institutions received an additional $22.7 billion from the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA).

This time around, despite not hosting students on campus full-time for most of the last year, American universities received just under $40 billion in funding. These funds are being distributed across the 5,300 colleges and universities in the country. Some need it. Others have endowments so vast that it has been questioned why they charge tuition at all. (It turns out there are good answers to that question). In this case, American taxpayers are subsidizing (for the third time) some already wealthy institutions, many of which are receiving far more in government bailout funds than universities and colleges with more modest endowments.

No Ivy League school is receiving less than eight digits' worth of taxpayer-supplied "relief" funds, with the exception of Dartmouth College, the smallest of the Ivies (although the school’s endowment tops Brown’s by more than $1 billion). Princeton, a school with a $26.6 billion endowment, is receiving $12 million, while Yale will add $17.3 million to its $31.2 billion stockpile, and Penn has been awarded $26.3 million on top of its nearly $15 billion fund. Columbia and Cornell will each receive just about $33 million to add to their respective billions. Rounding out the list, Harvard — a school that has been called "A Hedge Fund That Has a University" — is receiving more than $25 million to add to its $41.9 billion endowment.

All told, the Ivy League will receive $168 million in coronavirus bailout funds in this round of "relief" alone. The endowment of each Ivy League school has grown over the past year, with the exception of Cornell's, and the schools do not pay taxes on investment gains their endowments earn, making the need for government, read taxpayer, assistance even less plausible.

During the initial round of CARES Act funding, some top universities — including Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Penn, and Stanford (one of the top five wealthiest private schools in the nation) — withdrew their applications for emergency funding in the face of public chiding by former President Trump, then-Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, and others. But by December, negative press scrutiny had passed, and elite academic institutions were once again gratefully accepting taxpayer subsidies.

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