Major Universities Settle Financial Aid Lawsuit For $166 Million

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Alyssa Guzik
February 29, 2024

A lawsuit was filed in 2022 against 17 of the top universities in the United States. It alleged that the named institutions had violated U.S. antitrust laws by giving favor to specific students. Though not all of the judgments have been issued, eight of the designated schools have agreed to settle.

The lawsuit alleged that these universities had broken antitrust laws by violating the pledge that students' financial situations wouldn't be considered in admissions decisions. By doing so, wealthy and primarily white students had an admissions advantage at Dartmouth, Northwestern, Vanderbilt, and Rice. This behavior ultimately resulted in inflated tuition costs and limited options for students seeking higher education.

These universities agreed to settle for $166 million, though each has denied any wrongdoing. Ten of the 17 universities mentioned in the suit have settled, with the remaining seven still awaiting judgment. This is not the first time that renowned universities have actively discriminated against BIPOC students.

Each student is expected to receive an additional credit of $750 once the settlements are paid out. While not a large amount, the lawsuit scrutinizes admissions practices before a fresh batch of students apply to schools across the country.

By price fixing, these universities made it much harder for Black students to get admission and obtain financial aid. The settlement serves as a reminder that even prestigious institutions are not above scrutiny and the legal consequences of being anti-competitive.