A lot of this may be because people who get into Ivy League universities are (rightly or wrongly) seen as talented and hard-working. Most people don't have qualms about money going to talented & hard-working people who are down on their luck; they have qualms about money going to lazy mooches who'll spend it on booze.
Now, whether it's true that Ivy League student = talented & hard-working and welfare mom = lazy hedonistic mooch is another discussion, but those are the stereotypes that many people operate under.
Misaimed. The money doesn't go to the ivy league student. It passes directly to administrators, professors, etc, via tuition and endless fees. The more expensive the school, the lower percentage the kids get to skim off for living expenses. So at vo-tech level most of the money loaned as a percentage is going for booze, apartments, cars, gas, food rather than tuition.
Now if the kids got huge loans, stuck the dough in stock market funds, defer interest until graduation at which time they cashed in the funds, paid taxes and paid off the interest free loans, and kept a tidy small profit, as my econ professor and his friends did in the 70s/80s, then money could be said to go to the kids. This practice has been pretty much eliminated.
To be fair, most of the "anti-welfare" troupe don't seem to be against "wealth redistribution" per-se (which is what makes it such a weird battlecry) but against government handouts to people who don't "contribute" via taxation.
You're missing the point completely, If a private Ivy League institution wants to redistribute wealth, that's fine. One must opt in to be part of that group, and it only affects members who choose to be part of that group, knowing the consequences. If the federal government wants to, it's much different as one's choice to belong to a national government is much less free.
I make annual donations to my university's alumni fund because I would not be where I am without the opportunities given to me by my choice in college. I also want to give that opportunity to the next under privileged kid.
As others pointed out, wealth redistribution in this case is voluntary.
Does the whim of a private company really get to determine if you get a scholarship or not - and thus profoundly influence your future career? Or are these universities really implicit public institutions?
I don't think Stanford university is purely private in the same way that, say, the Coca-cola company is private.
The scholarships may be privately funded, but 84% of Stanford research funding in 2012 was received "directly or indirectly from the Federal Government". That's a quarter of the University's overall income, according to its annual report, before you start accounting for tax breaks. I don't doubt the government gets a return on that strings-attached investment, but welfare has positive externalities too...
That's a great point, and you could also ask how "public" universities are as well. UC Berkeley now gets about 12% of its budget from the state.
Its a little difficult to make direct comparisons to Stanford, as Stanford's numbers will include a medical research university while Berkeley and UCSF are considered separate campuses, and Med centers have huge budgets. But the state financial support for UC Berkeley has dropped dramatically (around 12%).
It may be different for the smaller state schools that are not research universities. But if you line it up, private and public universities research universities are more similar than different in their sources of funding (grants, private donations, endowment income, etc). The things people believe distinguish these universities from private ones (tuition, state support) are actually a relatively minor part of the budget.