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U.S. College Graduates Sue 16 Ivy League Schools Over Financial Aid

Updated: Jan 18, 2022

Reporter: Prim Kamolyabutr

Published: 11 January 2022

Most of us dream of attending an Ivy League university, because we believe it to be prestigious, reputable and deemed as an achievement. Therefore, it may come as a surprise to us that people are suing these schools for colluding to limit financial aid incentives.

According to the College Board, tuition fees at private universities in the States have outpaced inflation in the recent decades. Which gave the incentive for many schools to offer financial aid based on family income. Financial aid makes it possible for well earned students to have the opportunity to attend their desired college. This money can be a grant, loan, scholarship, or something else that makes college or career school more affordable.

Which is why, on January 10th, five U.S. college graduates sued 16 major U.S. universities. This names Brown University, California Institute of Technology, University of Chicago, Columbia University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Duke University, Emory University, Georgetown University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Northwestern University, University of Notre Dame, University of Pennsylvania, Rice University, Vanderbilt University and Yale University as defendants.

These sixteen Ivy Leagues and elite universities in the United States were sued on the grounds of “illegally conspiring to eliminate competitive financial aid” that is offered to students requesting for it. The lawsuit shows that the collusion has overcharged over 170,000 financial aid recipients to be overcharged hundreds of millions of dollars over the past two decades.

Currently, undergraduate tuition at Yale and Columbia for an academic year varies around $59,950 to $60,514. The plaintiffs wrote; “Elite, private universities like defendants are gatekeepers to the American Dream”.

As for what the colleges have to say about these accusations, the spokesperson for Dartmouth College, University of Pennsylvania, Chicago, Notre Dame, Northwestern, Georgetown, MIT, Vanderbilt, Duke, Rice and Columbia have either declined to comment or did not respond to requests for a comment.

However, comments from other colleges goes as follows:

Yale University (spokesperson - Karen N. Peart): “Yale’s financial aid policy is 100% compliant with all applicable laws.”

CalTech University (spokesperson - Kathy A. Svitil): “We have confidence, however, in our financial aid practices” but declined to speak about the pending litigation.

Brown University (spokesperson - Brian E. Clark): “If we are served with the complaint, we will conduct a full review and respond as appropriate through the legal process. 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.”

As a result, the lawsuit filed in Chicago federal court seeks unspecified triple damages for financial aid recipients who have attended the schools since 2003, as well as for their parents. While in the Illinois federal court, Northwestern and Duke University students seek to compensate people who received financial aid packages that did not fully cover the cost of tuition, room and board. However, any other news about the resolution of this all is still unknown.


Cohen, Luc. “U.S. College Grads Sue Yale, Columbia, Other Schools over Financial Aid.”

Fitzsimons, Tim. “16 Ivy League and Elite Universities Sued for Alleged Financial Aid


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