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Did Family Money Buy Jared Kushner His Spot at Harvard?

Jared Kushner has often been characterized as the head of President-elect Donald Trump’s braintrust. But if old allegations are true, the newspaper owner and real estate magnate didn’t get into Harvard on his smarts.

“There was no way anybody in the administrative office of the school thought he would on the merits get into Harvard,” an official at Kushner’s Jewish day school in Paramus, New Jersey, told Daniel Golden, in his 2007 book “The Price of Admission: How America’s Ruling Class Buys Its Way into Elite Colleges — and Who Gets Left Outside the Gates.”

“His GPA did not warrant it, his SAT scores did not warrant it. We thought for sure, there was no way this was going to happen,” the official continued, describing Kushner as “less than stellar” academically. “Then, lo and behold, Jared was accepted. It was a little bit disappointing because there were at the time other kids we thought should really get in on the merits, and they did not.”

Golden, in an essay for the Web site ProPublica, recalls that he suspected Kushner and his brother Joshua had both won admission to Harvard thanks to family ties after he obtained a list that showed their father Charles Kushner, the founder of the real estate empire, on a donor list that indicated he was giving to Harvard to the tune of millions.

Reporting the story, he at the time called a worker in Harvard’s admissions office, who declined to comment on Kushner’s case, stating that the university did not comment on individual applicants. After Golden pressed further, he remembered, the admissions officer hung up on him.

Kushner, through spokeswoman Risa Heller, denied on the claim that Charles Kushner’s largesse and Jared Kushner’s admission were linked, stating in a Thursday e-mail to ProPublica that the charge “is and always has been false.” “Jared Kushner was an excellent student in high school and graduated from Harvard with honors,” she added.

Contact Daniel J. Solomon at solomon@forward.com or on Twitter @DanielJSolomon

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