Settlements totaling $284 million from ten out of the seventeen defendants in the case will provide payments to students who received need-based financial aid to cover some but not all costs (tuition, fees, room, and board) to attend Brown University, California Institute of Technology, University of Chicago, Columbia University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Duke University, Emory University, Georgetown University, Johns Hopkins University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Northwestern University, University of Notre Dame, University of Pennsylvania, William Marsh Rice University, Vanderbilt University, or Yale University.


Certain current and former financial aid recipients brought a proposed class action lawsuit in January 2022 against Brown University, California Institute of Technology, University of Chicago, Columbia University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Duke University, Emory University, Georgetown University, Johns Hopkins University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Northwestern University, University of Notre Dame, University of Pennsylvania, William Marsh Rice University, Vanderbilt University, and Yale University (the “Defendants” or “Universities”).

The lawsuit alleges that the Universities conspired in violation of the federal antitrust laws regarding principles, formulas, and methods of determining financial aid. The Action also alleges that as a result, the Universities provided less financial aid than they would have provided had there been full and fair competition. The Universities have alleged that Plaintiffs’ claims lack merit; that the Universities’ financial aid policies were legal and pro-competitive, and financial aid awards were not artificially reduced; that the Universities have valid defenses to Plaintiffs’ allegations; and that Plaintiffs’ claims would have been rejected prior to trial, at trial, or on appeal.

Plaintiffs have reached settlement agreements (“Settlements”) with Brown University (“Brown”), University of Chicago (“Chicago”), the Trustees of Columbia University (“Columbia”), Trustees of Dartmouth College ("Dartmouth"), Duke University (“Duke”), Emory University (“Emory”), Northwestern University ("Northwestern"), William Marsh Rice University ("Rice"), and Vanderbilt University ("Vanderbilt"), Yale University (“Yale”). As part of the Settlements:

  • Chicago has agreed to make a settlement payment of $13.5 million.
  • Emory has agreed to make a settlement payment of $18.5 million.
  • Yale has agreed to make a settlement payment of $18.5 million.
  • Brown has agreed to make a settlement payment of $19.5 million.
  • Columbia has agreed to make a settlement payment of $24 million.
  • Duke has agreed to make a settlement payment of $24 million.
  • Dartmouth has agreed to make a settlement payment of $33.75 million.
  • Rice has agreed to make a settlement payment of $33.75 million.
  • Northwestern has agreed to make a settlement payment of $43.5 million.
  • Vanderbilt has agreed to make a settlement payment of $55 million.

Upon approval by the Court, Settling Defendants will provide payments to the following class of current and former students ("Settlement Class"):

  1. All U.S. citizens or permanent residents who have during the Class Period (a) enrolled in one or more of Defendants’ full-time undergraduate programs, (b) who received at least some need-based financial aid from one or more Defendants, and (c) whose tuition, fees, room, or board to attend one or more of Defendants’ full-time undergraduate programs was not fully covered by the combination of any types of financial aid or merit aid (not including loans) in any undergraduate year.[1] The Class Period is defined as follows:
    1. For Chicago, Columbia, Cornell, Duke, Georgetown, MIT, Northwestern, Notre, Rice, Vanderbilt, Yale – from Fall Term 2003 through the date the Court enters an order preliminarily approving the Settlement.
    2. For Brown, Dartmouth Emory – from Fall Term 2004 through the date the Court enters an order preliminarily approving the Settlements.
    3. For Caltech – from Fall Term 2019 through the date the Court enters an order preliminarily approving the Settlement.
    4. For Johns Hopkins – from Fall Term 2021 through the date the Court enters an order preliminarily approving the Settlement.
  2. Excluded from the Class are:
    1. Any Officers[2] and/or Trustees of Defendants, or any current or former employees holding any of the following positions: Assistant or Associate Vice Presidents or Vice Provosts, Executive Directors, or Directors of Defendants’ Financial Aid and Admissions Offices, or any Deans or Vice Deans, or any employees in Defendants’ in-house legal offices; and
    2. the Judge presiding over this action, his or her law clerks, spouse, and any person within the third degree of relationship living in the Judge’s household and the spouse of such a person.

The Plaintiffs have asked the Court to approve as lawyers for this Settlement Class the following:

Edward J. Normand
Freedman Normand Friedland LLP
99 Park Avenue
Suite 1910
New York, NY 10016
Telephone: 1-646-970-7513
tnormand@fnf.law

Robert D. Gilbert
Gilbert Litigators & Counselors, P.C.
11 Broadway, Suite 615
New York, NY 10004
Telephone: 1-646-448-5269
rgilbert@gilbertlitigators.com

Eric L. Cramer
Berger Montague PC
1818 Market Street, Suite 3600
Philadelphia, PA 19106
Telephone: 1-215-875-3000
ecramer@bm.net

If approved by the Court, the Settlements will provide cash payments to members of the Settlement Class who submit valid and timely claim forms later in the process. 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 $2,000 from these Settlements.

Because the Plaintiffs allege an antitrust conspiracy where Plaintiffs allege that Defendants would be joint and severally liable, the amount of money any member of the Settlement Class receives is not directly related to the amount of money that the institution that person attended paid in settlement. The parties have agreed to ask the Court that any funds remaining after an initial distribution to the Settlement Class that are unable to be efficiently distributed to the Settlement Class be given, with the Court’s approval, to charitable causes that promote access to higher education for disadvantaged students and families.


[1] For avoidance of doubt, the Class does not include those for whom the total cost of attendance, including tuition, fees, room, and board for each undergraduate academic year, was covered by any form of financial or merit aid (not including loans) from one or more Defendants.

[2] For the avoidance of doubt, the Columbia University “Officers” excluded from the Class are members of the Senior Administration of Columbia University, and do not include exempt employees of Columbia University who are referred to as officers.