The University of Chicago has agreed to settle a lawsuit accusing the university and other elite schools of illegally conspiring to restrict financial aid. The settlement, which requires the university to pay the plaintiffs $13.5 million, marks the first resolution in the antitrust price-fixing case.
In 2022, the student plaintiffs filed a lawsuit in Chicago federal court against 17 U.S. colleges and universities, alleging that the schools unlawfully colluded to restrict financial aid, resulting in hundreds of thousands of students paying “artificially inflated tuition.” According to Reuters, after the two parties reached a preliminary settlement in April, the details of the agreement were finally revealed Monday, including the amount of the settlement and the university’s agreement to cooperate with plaintiffs’ lawyers.
The University of Chicago, which withdrew from the alleged cartel in 2014, said in a statement that it “looks forward to putting this matter behind us and continuing to focus our efforts on expanding access to a transformative undergraduate education.”
Plaintiffs’ attorneys said it was a “landmark settlement,” and all members of the proposed student class would be entitled to a share of the settlement, regardless of their attendance at the University of Chicago or any of the other defendants. Furthermore, the plaintiffs’ attorneys sought up to $4.5 million in legal fees for their work as part of the settlement.
The University of Chicago’s agreement to pay $13.5 million and cooperate with the student plaintiffs in the scheme marks the first in a historic case that has the potential to have far-reaching implications for colleges and universities across the nation. It’s unclear when or if the other accused schools will reach a settlement or if the case will go forward to a trial.