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US universities settle financial-aid antitrust lawsuit for $166 million

Published 02/23/2024, 08:01 PM
Updated 02/23/2024, 08:55 PM
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The Library at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, U.S., September 18, 2018.  REUTERS/Harrison McClary/File Photo

By Mike Scarcella

(Reuters) -Dartmouth, Northwestern (NASDAQ:NWE), Rice and Vanderbilt universities have agreed to pay a combined $166 million to resolve claims that they favored wealthy student applicants, pushing total settlements in a federal antitrust lawsuit over college financial aid practices to $284 million.

Lawyers for a proposed class of hundreds of thousands of current and former U.S. students disclosed the latest settlements in a filing late Friday in Chicago federal court.

The 2022 lawsuit said 17 prominent colleges and universities violated U.S. antitrust law by violating a pledge not to consider students' finances in making admissions decisions, giving wealthy students an edge.

Dartmouth and Rice said they would each pay $33.75 million. Northwestern agreed to pay $43.5 million, and Vanderbilt will pay $55 million.

Brown, Yale and Columbia universities earlier agreed to pay a combined $62 million to resolve claims against them.

The schools, including those that have reached settlements, have denied wrongdoing.

Northwestern, Dartmouth, Vanderbilt and Rice in statements said settling with the plaintiffs allowed them to move past the case and focus on their academic missions.

The case will continue against seven schools, including Cornell University, University of Pennsylvania and Georgetown University.

Ted Normand, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, in a statement said, “These new settlements will significantly increase the compensation to the class members for the harm we allege the defendants’ cartel caused.”

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The Library at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, U.S., September 18, 2018.  REUTERS/Harrison McClary/File Photo

Average payouts to members of the class are expected to be $750, according to a court filing.

The settlements are subject to a judge's consideration and approval.

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