Federal Lawsuit Charges Ivy League, other Elite Universities with Collusion on Admissions, Tuition

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tags: higher education, Ivy League, antitrust

Sixteen major U.S. universities, including Yale University, Georgetown University and Northwestern University, are being sued for alleged antitrust violations because of the way they work together to determine financial-aid awards for students.

According to a lawsuit filed in Illinois federal court late Sunday by law firms representing five former students who attended some of the schools, the universities engaged in price fixing and unfairly limited aid by using a shared methodology to calculate applicants’ financial need. Schools are allowed under federal law to collaborate on their formulas, but only if they don’t consider applicants’ financial need in admissions decisions. The suit alleges these schools do weigh candidates’ ability to pay in certain circumstances, and therefore shouldn’t be eligible for the antitrust exemption.

The suit seeks damages and a permanent end to the schools’ collaboration in calculating financial need and awarding aid.

College admissions practices are being challenged more broadly and pillars of the decades-old admissions system are crumbling.

The Supreme Court is expected to decide as soon as this week whether to take up two cases centered on affirmative action, involving Harvard University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Amherst College in October said it would stop giving an edge to applicants whose parents attended the school, placing it among the first elite schools to ditch legacy preferences. And in part because the pandemic made it difficult for students to take the ACT and SAT, thousands of colleges shifted to a test-optional policy for recent and current applicants. Hundreds of those schools have since extended the offer for at least a few more years.

In addition to Yale, Georgetown and Northwestern, other named defendants in the suit are: Brown University, the California Institute of Technology, the University of Chicago, Columbia University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Duke University, Emory University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Notre Dame, the University of Pennsylvania, Rice University and Vanderbilt University.

Read entire article at Wall Street Journal