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Sixteen Elite Schools Accused of Financial Aid Conspiracy

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Duke University campus. | Image from BSPollard

Sixteen elite universities face a lawsuit in federal court after being accused of conspiring to eliminate competitive financial aid offers to students in a price-fixing scheme.

The lawsuit states that these elite and Ivy League schools inflated the cost of attendance for all students receiving financial aid. This resulted in over 170,000 financial-aid recipients being overcharged by at least hundreds of millions of dollars.

The suit was filed on Sunday by five former Duke, Northwestern, and Vanderbilt University students. They are seeking compensation for the people who received financial aid packages that did not fully cover the cost of tuition or room and board since 2003.

The colleges named in the lawsuit are: Yale University, Vanderbilt University, Rice University, University of Pennsylvania, University of Notre Dame, Northwestern University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Georgetown University, Emory University, Duke University, Dartmouth College, Cornell University, Columbia University, University of Chicago, California Institute of Technology, and Brown University.

“If we are served with the complaint, we will conduct a full review and respond as appropriate through the legal process,” said Brian E. Clark, who is a spokesperson for Brown University. “Based on a preliminary review, the complaint against Brown has no merit and Brown is prepared to mount a strong effort to make this clear.”

In an email, Karen N. Peart, a spokesperson for Yale University, said, “Yale’s financial aid policy is 100% compliant with all applicable laws.”

The suit also states that an elite group of representatives from different universities called the “568 Presidents Group” aimed to reduce or eliminate price competition among its members.

“Absent collusion, Defendants would compete on prices for the students that they decided to admit because these are the students that the admissions department has decided would satisfy the goals of the admissions process,” the lawsuit states. “The result of the 568 is thus not only to reduce the amount of total aid offered by each school but also to reduce the total amount of aid offered to each prospective student at each Defendant school.”

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