Five former students filed suit in federal court Sunday alleging that top colleges, including Vanderbilt University, have engaged in price fixing and unfairly limiting aid.
In addition to Vanderbilt, the defendants include Yale, Georgetown, Northwestern, Brown, the California Institute of Technology, the University of Chicago, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Duke, Emory, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Notre Dame, the University of Pennsylvania and Rice.
As many as 170,000 former students from the past two decades are potential plaintiffs, according to the suit.
The new lawsuit alleges that members of that group are violating federal law because they aren’t entirely need-blind. Rather, lawyers say, at least some of the schools consider financial need by giving an admission edge to children of wealthy donors. Some also weigh applicants’ finances when admitting them off the waiting list and look at finances in admission decisions for certain programs, the suit alleges.
“While conspiring together on a method for awarding financial aid, which raises net tuition prices, defendants also consider the wealth of applicants and their families in making admissions decisions,” said Eric Rosen, a partner at Roche Freedman involved in the suit who was a lead prosecutor on the federal Varsity Blues college admissions-cheating investigation in 2019.
Vanderbilt did not immediately respond to a request for comment.