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Rubio Supports Effort to Stop Universities With Massive Endowments From Receiving COVID Aid

May 1, 2020 | Press Releases

Miami, FL — U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) joins Senators Josh Hawley (R-MO), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), and Martha McSally (R-AZ) in a legislative effort to prohibit universities from receiving Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds from the CARES Act if they have an endowment larger than $10 billion, unless they first spend some of their own money on coronavirus-related financial assistance for students with the greatest need. Representatives Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Ben Cline (R-VA) are introducing companion legislation in the House.

“The wealthiest colleges and universities in the U.S., which are sitting on tens of billions of dollars in endowments, but extending a hand to federal taxpayers for relief funding need a reality check,” Rubio said. “The unprecedented coronavirus pandemic plaguing our nation has impacted millions of Americans — including students — who desperately need help to weather this storm. When there is a finite amount of money available for students, Congress should ensure aid is going to those who need it most, and I’m proud to join my colleagues in this effort to do exactly that.”

“Universities with massive endowments should not be getting taxpayer money unless they spend some money out of their own pockets to actually help their students,” Hawley said. “This is common sense. Relief funds were intended for schools that need it, not wealthy universities that sit on huge endowments. It’s greed, plain and simple, and it’s wrong.”

“Federal funds to help America through this unpreceded healthcare and economic crisis should be reserved for those who truly need it, and should not go to well-endowed universities,” Blackburn said.

“Universities with large endowments should not receive a dime of federal relief cash without first tapping into their own funds to help struggling students who have been impacted by this crisis,” McSally said. “Our legislation will compel universities to set aside a portion of their endowment funds to support suffering students before they can receive federal help.”

“This bill shouldn’t be controversial or partisan. If universities have large endowments, they should spend some of that endowment on their students first, before seeking a federal bailout,” Jordan said. “This legislation ensures that large universities are held accountable to taxpayers in the future, while at the same time directing funds to those actually in need. I’m proud to stand behind this important legislation with Senator Hawley and Congressman Cline.”

“Colleges and universities with multibillion-dollar endowments should not be requesting funds from the CARES Act,” Cline said. “Money allocated through this legislation should be reserved for businesses and institutions in need, not entities that have virtually unlimited resources through their foundations and endowments. This bill ensures that our Nation’s wealthiest schools can no longer take advantage of coronavirus relief funding at the expense of the American taxpayer.”

Under the proposal, universities with endowments of $10 billion or more would have to spend 10 times the amount appropriated to them, according to the formula in the CARES Act, to be eligible for federal relief funds. The university would have to demonstrate it spent the money on the same uses of funds required by the CARES Act – emergency financial aid grants to students to cover costs including course materials, technology, food, housing, healthcare, childcare, and costs related to the disruption to the delivery of instruction due to COVID-19.


The CARES Act provided nearly $14 billion for higher education institutions through the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund. From that amount, 90 percent of funds were awarded to higher education institutions to be used to cover the cost of changes in delivery of education services due to COVID-19 and to provide direct emergency financial assistance to students that demonstrate a financial need. Funds are allocated based on the number of Pell Grant recipients and overall student enrollment at each institution of higher education.