As several Ivy League institutions recently discovered, taking bail-out money when you have a multi-billion dollar endowment is just not a good look.

The $2.2 trillion CARES Act, the economic rescue package passed by Congress earlier this month, offers $14 billion to the nation’s colleges and universities. Schools were allotted varying sums based on their size and the number of students they teach from poorer backgrounds.

The money was meant to help colleges and students facing financial losses triggered by the pandemic. If colleges accept the funding, they’re required to spend at least half on direct grants for students.

So, what's the problem?

Harvard University, for example has one of the richest endowments in the world, valued at nearly $40 billion. They were supposed to receive nearly $9 million from the CARE Act, before the court of public opinion turned solidly against them doing so. With a $40 billion dollar endowment and deep financial reserves, it was a bad look--and Harvard knew it.

After getting roasted on Twitter for an ill-advised tweet that attempted to explain why Harvard should get the money, they finally waved the white flag and said they wouldn't be taking that payout after all. Other Ivy League schools with multi-billion dollar endowments ended up doing the same.

Now, having watched what the others went through, Northwestern University in Evanston says that they'll "reject" the money, too.

Northwestern University is rejecting the $8.5 million in federal assistance it was allotted earlier this month to help those adversely affected financially by the coronavirus pandemic, school officials said Tuesday.

In a statement released by spokesman Jon Yates, Northwestern decided not to apply for or receive the funds allocated in the CARES Act after determining it couldn’t accept the act’s requirements and “evolving guidance.”

Northwestern University's endowment is the 12th largest in the nation, at $11.1 billion. Perhaps it was the optics on this that prompted Northwestern to decline, not the "act's requirements and evolving guidance."

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