Ivy League universities sued for violating financial aid regulations


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Grace Lee, News Editor

Five previous students have filed a lawsuit on Jan. 9 against a tight circle of top 16 ranking colleges, claiming those colleges have discriminated against those who require more financial aid. 

The lawsuit claims that the colleges agreed on a single strategy for determining the costs of financial aid, with the capacity for the student’s family to pay off the costs a large factor. Inadvertently, this has caused colleges to favor the wealthy, as they have an increased ability to pay it off.

All universities are members of the 568 Presidents Group, an assembly that originally was organized because of the federal exemption law stating that colleges and universities are no longer required to adhere to antitrust laws if they are considered “need-blind,” otherwise known as the disregard for a student’s socioeconomic status when deciding whether or not the student is to be admitted. 

Therefore, it seems as if the suit believes the listed colleges have violated this law, as “the applicant’s assessed ability to pay therefore is a key determinant in the net price of attendance,” further explaining that “under a true need-blind admissions system, all students would be admitted without regard to the financial circumstances of the student or student’s family.”

Additionally, these colleges have been claimed to have taken advantage of certain “loopholes” that make them infringe their title of being “need-blind.” First, they have preferred the families of students that have donated large sums of money to their institution. Of course, this breaches the idea of being “need-blind,” as the college is favoring those that are wealthy and able to donate. 

Second, it is claimed colleges such as Penn and Vanderbilt have looked at a student’s capacity to pay for college, at least in regards to admitting waitlisted students.

Columbia’s School of General Studies, which houses non-traditional students that are either part-time or have just departed from military service, has been listed on their official website as only “need-aware,” not “need-blind.” 

The lawsuit also claims that the colleges have participated in the use of enrollment management, which means that they have ultimately utilized factors such as your address, school, etc. in order to configure a certain idea about a student’s financial situation. 

As of the moment, many of the colleges seem to believe that the lawsuit has “no merit,” continuing to defend their administration’s policies.