The elite Harvard University is encouraging its graduates to use food stamps even though the school has more than $50 billion in the bank. Harvard is the wealthiest school in the world and pays no taxes on its $53 billion endowment.
University officials sent fliers to graduate students in April encouraging them to attend a Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Benefits Sign-Up event. The fliers read, “Fuel your body & stock your pantry. Did you know that grad students may qualify for assistance paying for food & groceries?”
Critics argue that Harvard can afford to fund students and workers through scholarships or research programs, but instead relies on the already overburdened American taxpayer.
The Harvard Graduate Students Union (HGSU) has called for more assistance and pay increases for graduate students. The organization proposes that the $40,000 per year workers receive should be increased to $60,000, saying this would alleviate the need for the help of government programs intended for the poor.
Graduate student workers have organized strikes twice over the past two years due to pay disputes. Furthermore, approximately 30% of the relevant staff come from foreign countries and do not qualify for assistance programs.
Harvard has the largest endowment in America. An endowment is the collective of tax-exempt donations and investments held by an institution. The second largest is Yale University in Connecticut, with a total of $42 billion. The two colleges combined have more money than the GDP of several countries, including Bolivia and Paraguay.
In third place is Stanford University with $37.8 billion, followed by Princeton with $37 billion, Massachusetts Institute of Technology which has $27.4 billion, the University of Pennsylvania has $20.5 billion, the University of Notre Dame has $18.4 billion, Texas A&M University has $16.9 billion, the University of Michigan has $16.8 billion, and finally, Washington University in St. Louis has an endowment of $13.7 billion.
The school with the smallest endowment is the University of Hawaii, with $348,967.