The lawsuit alleges that 16 major U.S. universities, including Yale and Georgetown, violated antitrust laws by using shared methods to determine student financial aid.
Yale University, one of more than a dozen U.S. higher education institutions, has been sued for allegedly violating antitrust laws and unfairly limiting financial aid awards to students, The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported.paywall) on Monday.
The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Illinois by attorneys representing five former students who attended some of the 16 institutions, The Wall Street Journal reported.
The lawsuit focuses on the thorny issue of how colleges determine a student’s ability to pay for college, which has reached astronomical levels in the United States and sparked a student debt crisis.
The lawsuit alleges that the colleges illegally used shared methods to determine financial aid awards because the institutions sometimes weighed candidates’ ability to pay for higher education, the Journal said.
U.S. colleges and universities are allowed to cooperate on aid award formulas, but only if they practice so-called “need-blind” admissions, which do not consider a student’s ability to pay when determining who gets in and who doesn’t, The Wall Street Journal reported.
The lawsuit is seeking damages and a permanent end to the agencies’ joint efforts to calculate financial need and determine the size of aid packages for candidates.
College admissions in the US is very opaque. Few candidates end up paying full tuition, but aid packages can vary widely.
According to the Education Data Initiative, about 43.2 million Americans have student loan debt, and the total outstanding student loan debt in the United States is $1.75 trillion.
The lawsuit targets some of the most prestigious higher education institutions in the country.
In addition to Yale, other universities named in the lawsuit include Georgetown University, Northwestern University, Brown University, Caltech, University of Chicago, Columbia University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Duke University, Emory University, MIT Institute of Technology, University of Notre Dame, University of Pennsylvania, Rice University and Vanderbilt University.
More than 170,000 undergraduates who attended schools named in the lawsuit and received partial financial aid 18 years ago may be eligible to join the lawsuit as plaintiffs, according to the Wall Street Journal.