UChicago winter

The University of Chicago is among the colleges being sued for allegedly forming an anti-competitive cartel to keep financial aid awards low. 

The class action lawsuit was filed Sunday with the federal district court in Chicago by a group of five plaintiffs who were students at Duke, Vanderbilt and Northwestern. Other defendants include Yale, Brown and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 

The lawsuit targets the schools’ shared membership in the 568 Presidents Group, which pledges to engage in need-blind admissions — that is, considering applications without regard for how much those who are accepted can pay in tuition. The institutions claim that this consortium gives them an antitrust exemption, enabling them to share a methodology for working out financial aid awards. 

But the suit claims that this actually constitutes a violation of antitrust law. “The 568 Cartel has explicitly aimed to reduce or eliminate price competition among its members,” it states. “As a result of this conspiracy, the net price of attendance for financial-aid recipients at Defendants’ schools has been artificially inflated.” 

The alleged reason for the violation is that some of the schools in the 568 Group do not engage in need-blind admissions by, for example, admitting wealthier students off their admissions waitlist. 

The plaintiffs are asking for damages to be determined by trial court and an injunction “enjoining defendants from continuing to illegally conspire regarding their pricing and financial-aid policies.” 

The full lawsuit can be read here

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