LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) -- Despite backlash, the University of Southern California is defending its acceptance of $20 million in emergency grants through federal coronavirus relief funds.
While it isn't the only prestigious university to receive federal funding — others include Harvard and Yale — many gave the money back amid complaints.
USC said Thursday it will be keeping the money, because it has a lower endowment than most other universities, and it provides $640 million in financial aid to students each year — much higher than most other universities.
As debates swirl about whether or not a large university or corporation should receive coronavirus relief funding, many small businesses in the area are struggling to receive any money at all.
"We need whatever we can to keep our doors open right now," said Renee Kennedy, who owns Earth Baby boutique. She is among the small business owners who did not get any loans from the paycheck protection program.
"And then we hear these big, millionaire corporations are the ones getting all the money and universities...it just doesn't seem right," she continued.
In addition to prestigious universities, large corporations — like the owners of Ruth's Chris Steakhouse chain — received millions. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said more regulations will be put in place this time around to prevent corporations from receiving the PPP funding. Those large businesses that have already received loans will be asked to give them back.
A new federal relief package recently approved by Congress includes $370 billion more for small businesses. Kennedy said she isn't convinced her business will see any money this time around, either.
If she doesn't, she isn't sure how much longer she can keep her business afloat.
"People aren't spending money right now," Kennedy said. "We don't have huge reserves."
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