Brown, Yale, Columbia among latest to settle financial-aid lawsuit

By Mike Scarcella

(Reuters) – Brown, Yale and Columbia universities have agreed to pay a combined $62 million to resolve a lawsuit that accused them and others of favoring wealthy applicants, pushing total settlements in the case to $118 million.

Lawyers for a proposed class of hundreds of thousands of current and former U.S. college students disclosed the latest settlements, which also include Emory and Duke, in a filing late Tuesday in Chicago federal court.

The University of Chicago and Vanderbilt had already reached settlements in the 2022 case, which alleged massive tuition overcharges in violation of U.S. antitrust law.

The plaintiffs claim the schools conspired to restrict aid by violating a pledge not to consider students’ finances in making admissions decisions, giving wealthy students an edge.

The schools, including those that have reached settlements, have denied wrongdoing.

Yale and Emory said they would each pay $18.5 million; Brown agreed to pay $19.5 million; and Columbia and Duke both said they would pay $24 million.

The amount of Vanderbilt’s settlement has not been disclosed. The University of Chicago, which was the first school to settle, said it planned to pay $13.5 million.

The 10 remaining defendants include Cornell University, University of Pennsylvania and Georgetown University.

One of the plaintiffs’ lawyers, Robert Gilbert, in a statement urged leaders of other schools to “resolve the overcharges to middle class and working-class students.”

Brown in a statement said it decides student aid independently and “in alignment with our own institutional methodologies for determining need.”

Spokespersons for Columbia, Emory and Yale said settling allowed the schools to move past the case and focus on their academic missions.

Duke did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly must still approve the settlements. He declined to dismiss the lawsuit in 2022.

(Reporting by Mike Scarcella; Editing by David Bario and Mark Porter)