Speed Reads

the financial aid cartel

Top universities illegally considered financial need in admissions, lawsuit claims

Five former university students filed a lawsuit in Illinois federal court Sunday accusing 16 major U.S. universities of antitrust violations, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The plaintiffs in the suit claim the schools illegally colluded by using a shared formula that took students' financial need into account when calculating financial aid packages. Federal law permits universities to share methodologies, but only if they do not allow financial need to affect admissions decisions.

"While conspiring together on a method for awarding financial aid, which raises net tuition prices, defendants also consider the wealth of applicants and their families in making admissions decisions," Eric Rosen, a partner at a law firm involved in the suit, told the Journal.

A spokeswoman for Yale University said the school's financial aid policy is "100% compliant with all applicable laws." The other defendants either declined to comment or did not respond to the Journal's inquiries.

The plaintiffs seek damages and a ban on schools collaborating to calculate aid packages.

According to the Journal, the full list of defendants is as follows: Brown University, the California Institute of Technology, the University of Chicago, Columbia University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Duke University, Emory University, Georgetown University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Northwestern University, the University of Notre Dame, the University of Pennsylvania, Rice University, Vanderbilt University, and Yale University.

Read the full story at The Wall Street Journal for more details and an overview of the history of antitrust actions against U.S. universities.