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Every year, thousands of young people apply for admission to America’s renowned elite universities. In doing so, the vast majority rely and pin their hopes on these institutions’ public commitment to be fully need blind: the financial circumstances of students or their families will not be a factor in admission. To encourage these schools to disregard financial circumstances entirely in the application process, Congress carved out a limited exception in 1994 to the antitrust laws: schools that are need blind—and only such schools—will be permitted to collude on a formula for financial aid with other need-blind schools.
In a class action lawsuit (copy of the Complaint is available on the complaint tab at the top of this page) filed on January 9, and amended on February 15, 2022, in the federal district court for the Northern District of Illinois, students and parents have alleged that, for many years, 17 elite universities have systematically violated the terms of that antitrust exemption by failing to admit students on a fully need-blind basis or by colluding with institutions who failed in that way. On August 15, 2022, Judge Matthew Kennelly rejected motions by the Defendant universities to dismiss the case. The decision can be found in the tab above. Discovery in the litigation is now going forward.
These schools are:
Brown University, California Institute of Technology, University of Chicago, Columbia University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Duke University, Emory University, Georgetown University, Johns Hopkins University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Northwestern University, Notre Dame, University of Pennsylvania, Rice University, Vanderbilt University and Yale University.
The lawsuit claims that all these schools have thus taken advantage of an antitrust exemption to which they were not entitled, in violation of the antitrust laws of the United States. As a result of this antitrust conspiracy, the Complaint alleges that these schools have artificially reduced financial aid, and systematically increased the net tuition prices paid by over 200,000 students. These students and their parents are members of the proposed class in this antitrust action, which seeks to hold these elite institutions accountable for their misconduct, put a halt to these activities, and obtain damages to make the class members whole.
Media inquiries can be sent to: (Please be sure to identify your media organization in the request)
If you are a student who is attending or began attending any of these institutions after 2003, and received a grant from any one of the listed universities but nonetheless paid some of your tuition, room, or board, or if you are a parent of such a student and you want more information, you can contact our legal team at .
For further information, contact .
Students or their parents who want more information are kindly requested to fill in the information below and then press “Submit,” and one of the attorneys responsible for the case will be in touch with you. Parents should fill out the name(s) and other requested information for their children:
In the News
- WSJ —Yale, Georgetown, Other Top Schools Illegally Collude to Limit Student Financial Aid, Lawsuit Alleges
- Wash. Post — Former students sue Georgetown, Columbia and other elite universities over financial aid practices
- NYT — How Much Deference Do Elite U.S. Colleges Deserve?
- Meet the Plaintiffs Team Pursuing the Price-Fixing Lawsuit Against 16 Elite Universities
- Justice Department Urges Judge Not to Dismiss College Financial Aid Antitrust Case
- The Emory Wheel — Students demand compensation and transparency in wake of universities’ alleged price-fixing
- The Daily PA — Caroline Magdolen | Penn Was Never a Need-Blind School
- Duke could cover financial aid students’ costs if it did not engage in price fixing with other schools, per memorandum
- Northwestern could cover tuition for financial aid recipients, lawsuit memorandum alleges
- US Department of Justice files statement of interest supporting plaintiffs in financial aid lawsuit against Dartmouth
- U.S. Department of Justice files statement of interest in lawsuit accusing Duke, other universities of colluding to limit financial aid
- U.S. Department of Justice files statement of interest in financial aid lawsuit
- Top Universities Face Losing Billions as Legal Case Gains Traction
- Court denies Emory’s motion to dismiss financial aid collusion lawsuit
- University price fixing case epitomizes the corruption of education
- Financial aid antitrust lawsuit can move ahead, judge says
- Class (action) not dismissed: Fight to dissolve 568 Presidents Group continues
- Antitrust Suit Could Shake Up Schools’ Financial Aid Policies
- Aid-setting exemption ends for top US universities
- Financial Aid Blues: Elite Colleges See Federal Antitrust Exemption Expire As Price-Fixing Lawsuit Advances
- Let Money Talk, Former Students Say In Elite Schools Row
- Students suing elite US Colleges seek wealth favoritism information
- Elite Universities, Called a Price-fixing Cartel, May Face Judgment in US Court