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.
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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 .
On August 14, 2023, Plaintiffs filed a motion with the Court seeking preliminary approval of a settlement with the University of Chicago for $13.5 million.
On January 23, 2024, Plaintiffs filed a motion with the Court seeking preliminary approval of a settlement with Brown, Columbia, Duke, Emory, and Yale (the “Second Tranche Settlements”) collectively for $104.5 million. Together, the total settlement amount from the Chicago and Second Tranche Settlements is $118 million.
For more information about the settlements, including how to complete a claim form if and when the settlements are approved, please visit financialaidantitrustsettlement.com. The press releases announcing the settlements can be found under the “Pressroom” tab.
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:
All information submitted through this website will be held in the strictest confidence by receiving counsel and treated in accordance with the privileges that attach to communications seeking legal representation. Please be advised, however, that no attorney-client relationship is formed merely through your submission of information about your potential case to us.