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Rice University Allocates $33.75 Million to Settle Antitrust Lawsuit

 |  January 22, 2024

Rice University, based in Houston, Texas, has earmarked a substantial sum of $33.75 million to settle an antitrust lawsuit involving 17 esteemed private universities across the nation.

The universities, including Rice, have been accused of engaging in an illicit scheme that allegedly restricted the amount of financial aid available to students. The details of this financial commitment were revealed in Rice University’s financial statements for the previous fiscal year, as reported by the Houston Chronicle.

The financial statement disclosed that the funds would be utilized to resolve “a class action lawsuit in which it had been named a co-defendant along with sixteen other universities.” However, court records inspected on Friday did not confirm the finalization of a settlement agreement. When approached for comment, Rice University declined to provide insights into the ongoing litigation, and the plaintiffs remained silent on the matter as well.

The lawsuit, initiated by nine former students who attended some of the accused universities, was filed in January 2022. The claim asserted that the financial aid and admission practices of these institutions artificially inflated the cost of attendance. Court documents further allege that over 200,000 students receiving financial aid were overcharged hundreds of millions of dollars as a result of these practices. The U.S. Department of Justice has thrown its weight behind the lawsuit.

According to the lawsuit, the burden of these practices disproportionately affects “low- and middle-income families struggling to afford the cost of a university education and to achieve success for their children.”

The prestigious institutions named as defendants in the lawsuit are Rice University, Brown University, California Institute of Technology, Columbia University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Duke University, Emory University, Georgetown University, Johns Hopkins University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Northwestern University, University of Chicago, University of Notre Dame, University of Pennsylvania, Vanderbilt University, and Yale University.

Source: Houston Public Media