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US Judge Approves Settlements in College Admissions Lawsuit

 |  February 12, 2024

US District Judge Matthew Kennelly in Chicago has preliminarily approved settlements totaling over $104 million between major U.S. universities and a proposed class of students. The lawsuit, initiated in 2022, accused several renowned institutions, including Brown, Columbia, and Yale, of giving preferential treatment to wealthy applicants, thereby violating fair admission practices, reported Reuters.

The settlements, deemed reasonable by Judge Kennelly, mark a step forward in addressing the allegations brought forth by the students. Notable agreements include Yale and Emory committing to pay $18.5 million each, while Brown, Columbia, and Duke have agreed to pay $19.5 million, $24 million, and $24 million, respectively. Despite agreeing to settlements, the schools maintain their stance of denying any liability.

However, the legal battle continues as the case progresses against 10 other institutions, including Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Dartmouth College, and Georgetown University. These schools, accused of similar practices, are yet to reach settlement agreements.

The lawsuit alleges that admissions offices at these universities did not uphold their claimed “need-blind” policies, instead unlawfully considering applicants’ financial backgrounds in admission decisions. The proposed class, consisting of hundreds of thousands of current and former students, seeks billions of dollars in damages.

According to court filings, the average payout to members of the class is anticipated to be $750. While settlements with most universities have been disclosed, the terms of an additional proposed settlement with Vanderbilt University remain undisclosed at this time.

Eric Cramer, chairman of Berger Montague and representing the students, stated that negotiations with some schools are ongoing while preparations for trial against others are underway. The outcome of these negotiations and the impending trials will likely shape the future landscape of college admissions practices in the United States.

As the legal proceedings unfold, the spotlight remains on the integrity of the admissions process at prestigious academic institutions, raising questions about fairness, transparency, and equity in higher education.

Source: Reuters