Five US Universities to Settle Lawsuit on Admission, Financial Aid Violations for $104.5 Million

United States North America Higher Education News by Erudera News Jan 29, 2024

Columbia University library

Five universities in the United States have reached an agreement to resolve a lawsuit on admission and financial aid violations, according to court filings.

Brown, Columbia, Duke, Emory, and Yale universities have collectively agreed to pay $104.5 million to settle the lawsuit initiated by five former students against 17 universities.

The lawsuit claims that universities violated the antitrust law after ignoring their promise to not consider an applicant’s ability to pay for college tuition, Erudera.com reports.

Following the agreement, Duke and Colombia are expected to pay $24 million, Yale and Emory agreed to pay $18.5 million each, while Brown University will pay $19.5 million.

“In collectively sharing confidential data and information about admissions and financial aid, adopting this methodology, and regularly meeting to implement this methodology jointly, the 568 cartel has intended to reduce or eliminate, and in fact succeeded in reducing or eliminating, price competition among its members,” the suit said.

Filed in January 2022, the lawsuit targeted schools that belonged to the 568 Presidents Group, accusing 17 prestigious universities of colluding as a “price-fixing cartel” to control financial aid practices.

In a recent statement on the matter, Brown denied claims and said the university’s affiliation with the 568 Presidents Group, which ended in 2012, was legal and in students' interest.

“Brown denies these allegations and has agreed to resolve the litigation on the express condition that the settlement includes no admission of wrongdoing. The University’s participation in the 568 Presidents Group, which Brown ended in 2012, was lawful and consistent with the best interests of students at all times,” Brown spokesperson Brian E. Clark said.

The lawsuit notes that universities have overcharged more than 200,000 students for over twenty years, especially those from low and middle-income families who had to go through difficulties to afford university education costs.

Robert Gilbert, an attorney for the plaintiffs, confirmed that low and middle-income students were mostly affected. Speaking to the Boston Globe, he emphasized the urgency for certain institutions and presidents to resolve the overcharging of middle and working-class students due to collusion on financial aid for two decades now.

In addition to Brown, Columbia, Duke, Emory, and Yale, among the other defendants are the California Institute of Technology, University of Chicago, Cornell, Dartmouth, Georgetown, Johns Hopkins University, MIT, Northwestern, University of Notre Dame Du Lac, University of Pennsylvania, William Marsh Rice University, and Vanderbilt.

Previously, Vanderbilt University agreed to resolve the lawsuit, and the University of Chicago agreed to pay $13.5 million.

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