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.