Brown, Yale, and Columbia are among 5 elite schools that agreed to pay $104.5 million to students after being accused of colluding to limit financial aid


  • Five more elite schools agreed to a settlement to resolve claims they colluded on financial aid.

  • The 2022 lawsuit accused nearly 20 top schools of working in a “price-fixing cartel” to limit aid to students.

  • They did not admit any wrongdoing, and current and former impacted students will receive cash payments.

Five more elite schools have now agreed to a settlement to put claims they colluded to limit financial aid to rest.

On Tuesday, Emory, Yale, Brown, Columbia, and Duke agreed to pay a collective fine of $104.5 million to resolve allegations against 17 top schools that concerned the way each of them allocated financial aid.

In January 2022, five former students who attended Duke, Northwestern, and Yale, filed a lawsuit against 17 elite schools over their participation in a group called the 568 Presidents Group, which allowed the schools to develop common standards for allocating financial aid.

The lawsuit accused those schools of engaging in a “price-fixing cartel that is designed to reduce or eliminate financial aid as a locus of competition,” according to the original filing. The named schools did not admit any wrongdoing, and the five latest institutions to reach a settlement joined the University of Chicago, which was the first school to reach a $13.5 million settlement in August.

Brown spokesperson Brian Clark said in a Tuesday statement that “we vehemently believe that the claims had no merit, but given the time and financial resources required to take this case to trial, we determined that our resources are better spent resolving this matter and supporting the education of our students.”

The settlement amounts from each school are as follows:

  • Brown: $19.5 million

  • Columbia: $24 million

  • Duke: $24 million

  • Emory: $18.5 million

  • Yale: $18.5 million.

Current and former students included in the settlement class will receive cash payments if they were enrolled in one of the named schools’ undergraduate programs full-time, received need-based financial aid from the school, and whose tuition, fees, room, or board was not fully covered by the financial aid they received. The settlement class includes:

  • Students who attended UChicago, Columbia, Cornell, Duke, Georgetown, MIT, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Penn, Rice, Vanderbilt, and Yale from fall term 2003 through the settlement approval date

  • Students who attended Brown, Dartmouth, and Emory from fall term 2024 through the settlement approval date

  • Students who attended CalTech from fall term 2019 through the settlement approval date

  • And students who attended Johns Hopkins from fall term 2021 through the settlement approval date.

The other schools named in the original lawsuit have yet to announce trial dates or progress toward reaching a settlement. Settlement class members can expect to be included in an email campaign to notify them of the cash payments no later than 30 days after the court order, the settlement filing said.

Additionally, while not all of the named schools have agreed to a settlement, students who attended each of the schools are still eligible to receive the cash payments.

Class members can access a website that includes more information on the next steps in the settlement. According to the website, “payments for claims will vary depending on a number of factors. Assuming that about half of the 200,000 Settlement Class members submit timely claims (at a later date), and that the Court awards the attorneys’ fees and costs as requested, the average claimant will receive about $750 from these Settlements.”

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