Fifteen universities, including Emory University, were recently hit with a class-action lawsuit over financial aid conspiracy.
Emory University and 15 other universities in the U.S. are at the center of a federal class-action lawsuit filed by five former students over claims that the schools violated “antitrust laws by illegally colluding to manipulate the amount of financial aid granted to students.” The suit was filed in Illinois federal court earlier this month and states that “universities explicitly aimed to reduce or eliminate price competition among its members.”
At the moment, there are nine main defendants in the suit, including Columbia University (N.Y.), Dartmouth College (N.H.), Duke University (N.C.), Georgetown University (D.C.), Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Northwestern University (Ill.), the University of Notre Dame (Ind.), the University of Pennsylvania and Vanderbilt University (Tenn.) According to the suit, all the universities are “members of the 568 Presidents Group, an affiliation of universities that use a consensus methodology to calculate applicants’ financial aid.”
The suit further states that Emory was a member of the group from 2004 to 2012. For those who don’t know, the “group’s name refers to an antitrust exemption granted by Section 568 of the Improving America’s Schools Act, which allows universities to share methodologies for calculating applicants’ financial aid as long as those schools practice entirely need-blind admissions.” The problem? Well, according to the lawsuit, the schools “violated federal law by considering financial need when admitting students.” For example, “some schools allegedly favored children of wealthy upbringing and preferred students who will not need financial aid when deciding on waitlisting admissions,” according to the allegations.
When it comes to the consensus methodology, the suit argues when it is “applied in joint collaboration… price competition is drastically reduced, eliminating bidding wars and causing tuition inflation.” Because of that, the suit claims that more than 170,000 “students were overcharged by hundreds of millions of dollars across nearly two decades.” On top of that, the allegations argue that “these elite, private universities are gatekeepers to the American Dream and have drastically increased inaccessibility to the higher education promised by their institutions.” The result has been an alleged unfair burden on middle and low-income students who often struggle to cover college costs.
All of the plaintiffs allegedly sought “to compensate all U.S. citizens or permanent residents, and purchasers of tuition, room, or board” who attended the universities mentioned in the suit “who have received financial aid, paid tuition or room and board not fully covered by aid and are enrolled in a university’s full-time undergraduate programs during the relevant times.”