$323 million in federal CARES Act funding goes to NJ colleges and universities

Colleges and Universities in the state are receiving a total of $323 million in funding from the federal government through the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security Act. The bill includes $13 billion for higher education institutions across the nation.

Higher education institutions have faced financial challenges because of the pandemic. They have had to reimburse students for room, board, and other expenses, while also losing income that would have been generated from sporting events, reunions, summer camps, and other events.

The allocation of the funding by the federal government was based on the proportion of Pell Grant applicants at higher education institutions, as well as the numbers of students enrolling for both undergraduate and graduate programs. Half of all of the money given to high education institutions through the CARES Act must go toward direct student financial aid to cover expenses like course materials, food, health care, and housing.

Rutgers, the largest university in New Jersey, was the top grant recipient in the state, receiving $54 million. The College of New Jersey received $5 million, Rider University received $3.6 million, Mercer County Community College received $3.8 million, and Middlesex Community College received a $7.4 million grant. Princeton Theological Seminary received $143,700, and Thomas Edison State University in Trenton received $17,249.

Montclair State University received $20 million. Rowan University received $6.5 million, Kean University received $13.5 million, Stockton University received $10 million, William Paterson University received $9.7 million, and The New Jersey Institute of Technology received $8 million.

Princeton University was awarded $2.4 million. University officials posted shortly after the Planet Princeton story was posted on Wednesday afternoon that the university would not be accepting the funding. Planet Princeton had reached out to a spokesman for the university on Tuesday regarding how the school would use the funding but never received a response. Wednesday afternoon, after our story was posted, Princeton University issued the following statement via social media, and this story was then updated:

“Princeton has determined it will not accept funding allocated under the CARES Act. The University has not yet received any of these funds, and never requested any of these funds,” reads the statement. “Congress allocated CARES Act funding to colleges and universities to ensure that they could support Pell grant recipients and other students impacted by #COVID19. Funds were allocated based on a formula determined by the federal government. Princeton’s no-loan financial aid packages and other programs are designed to provide exceptional levels of support to our students, including DACA beneficiaries and international students. We remain committed to providing this support. We have also taken steps to meet additional needs resulting from #COVID19, and will continue to look for opportunities to do so throughout this crisis.”

The decision by the federal government to award CARES grants to Ivy League schools like Princeton and other schools with large endowments like the University of Michigan has attracted criticism. Columbia University and Cornell University have each been awarded about $12.8 million, while Harvard is receiving about $8.7 million and Yale is receiving $6.8 million.

As of June 30 of 2019, Princeton’s endowment was $26.1 billion, making it the third-largest endowment among the Ivy League Schools at the time. Yale’s endowment was $30.3 billion for the fiscal year ending June 30 of 2019, and Harvard’s endowment was $40.9 billion.

Harvard officials have said 100% of the funding the school received through the CARES Act will be used for direct financial relief for students.

Individual college and university allocations for schools across the country are available through a table created by the publication Inside Higher Ed.


  1. This is insane! How do universities with such huge endowments even think to apply for funds that should go to other struggling organizations with no fallbacks? Same thing goes for all Fortune 500 companies and corporations, some are returning those funds (Shake Shack)…

    Is there a way you can poll all the local organizations, especially non-profits who applied but didn’t make the cut by the time the funds were depleted?

    1. Higher education money was not from the same pot of money as the funding earmarked for small businesses. Money for higher education institutions was put aside in a special fund within the bill.

  2. Princeton put out a statement that they are not accepting the funding allocated under the CARES Act.

    1. Yes, we have updated the story. The university put that statement out after our story was posted. We never received a response to our inquiry yesterday.

  3. Thanks for the clarification. However, I’m still curious about local businesses’ results from the PPP relief fund. Any idea what the percentages of those who applied were granted/approved? Any information on the 2nd round of funds, if any?

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