Notre Dame turns down federal coronavirus aid in hopes of redistribution of funds to institutions in need
Observer Staff Report | Friday, May 1, 2020
Notre Dame has decided to forgo federal stimulus funds in order for the coronavirus aid to be redistributed to other institutions in need, vice president of public affairs and communications Paul J. Browne said in an email.
The Washington Times reported Friday that after Notre Dame declined $6 million in federal aid, the latest school to do so. Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin called on other private universities to do the same.
According to the article, Indiana Republican Sen. Mike Braun criticized Notre Dame in a letter to the University, saying the funds should be “redistributed to other schools that have an acute need for these emergency financial aid funds.”
University President Fr. John Jenkins replied to Braun in a letter obtained by The Observer, writing, “the University neither sought nor applied for the funds in question.”
Regardless of endowment, Jenkins wrote, the U.S. Department of Education created a formula for every college and university in the nation to receive funds.
“Also, it is my understanding that the monies not claimed by universities will be automatically returned to the Treasury Department’s general fund,” Jenkins wrote. “Perhaps you can convince the Administration to, instead, as you say, have ‘the stimulus money be redistributed to other schools that have an acute need of emergency financial aid funds.’”
As Jenkins initially said, federal funds received by the University for coronavirus relief will be used to aid students whose families are struggling by the loss of a job or another hardship as a result of the pandemic. Browne said in an email that a Student Emergency Relief Fund has been established to provide additional financial aid to students whose families have been hurt financially by the pandemic.
“Of course, we expect most of those families to include students who were eligible for financial aid before the pandemic,” Browne said. “Only now, that number is certain to grow because of the pandemic’s economic upheaval.”
Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this article said Notre Dame is the largest school to decline federal aid when it is the latest to do so. The Observer regrets this error.