Duke students potentially eligible for share of $13.5 million settlement in financial aid antitrust lawsuit

Duke students and alumni may soon be eligible for a share of a $13.5 million settlement agreed to last week. 

The University of Chicago became the first of 16 top schools, including Duke, to settle claims that the schools illegally colluded to limit financial aid disbursement. 

If the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois approves the settlement, the University of Chicago will make cash payments to undergraduate students from the listed universities who received financial aid and directly paid for their tuition and supplementary fees, but were not fully covered by their financial aid package.

Students who are part of the settlement group and attended Duke from 2003 to the settlement date will receive a reimbursement if the settlement clears preliminary and final approval. 

The 2022 lawsuit was filed by five former students who attended some of the listed universities, including one, Sia Henry, who graduated from Duke in 2011. They accused schools in the 568 Presidents Group, a body of top schools that exercise blind-need admissions, of violating antitrust laws. 

Duke was a member of the group from 1998 until it formally dissolved in November 2022 while it was being sued.

The suit argued that the group exploited an antitrust exemption that gave freedom to create standards that were not truly need-blind and considered wealth when prescribing admission decisions. 

Furthermore, the plaintiffs claimed that the universities’ practices have inflated the price of attendance for students on financial aid over 20 years. The lawsuit’s universities have allegedly overcharged over 170,000 financial aid recipients nearly “hundreds of millions of dollars.” 

The other 15 universities involved in the lawsuit are Brown University, the California Institute of Technology, the University of Chicago, Columbia University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Emory University, Georgetown University, Johns Hopkins University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Northwestern University, Notre Dame University, the University of Pennsylvania, Rice University, Vanderbilt University and Yale University.

The proposed settlement will include a media campaign to apprise students in the settlement class and provide information regarding important dates and deadlines for the cash payments. 

Andrew Bae profile
Andrew Bae | Editor-at-Large

Andrew Bae is a Trinity junior and an editor-at-large of The Chronicle's 120th volume.


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