Former Students Sue 16 Elite US Universities Over Financial Aid
Attorneys estimate that close to 200,000 students may have been affected by this practice in the past two decades.
No less than 16 elite American universities including Georgetown University, Columbia University, and the California Institute of Technology, have been sued by their graduates after being accused of conspiring to the reduce the financial aid for the students, The Washington Post reported.
The universities mentioned in the complaint are Georgetown, Columbia, Caltech, Northwestern University, Brown University, the University of Chicago, Cornell University, Yale University, Dartmouth College, the University of Pennsylvania, Duke University, Emory University, Vanderbilt University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Notre Dame, and Rice University.
The complaint was filed in a federal court in Illinois on Sunday, 9 January.
It claims that all these 16 universities used the same method to calculate financial need in a manner that takes into account the applicant's capacity to pay, that is, how much money the student pays after all the grants and the scholarships.
This essentially means that students who can afford to pay full the fees were being considered as attractive prospects by the institutions.
Students were being accepted not based on merit but on their wealth, the lawsuit alleges.
This case is significant because of the importance that many universities give to economic and racial diversity on campuses, one of the causes of which is financial aid provided to students of difference backgrounds.
"These elite universities are gatekeepers to the American Dream, and they are closing the gate more than they should," said Robert D Gilbert, a lawyer at Gilbert Litigators and Counselors, which is representing the petitioning students along with other legal firms Roche Freedman, Berger Montague and FeganScott, the Washington Post added.
Petitioners have also claimed that the universities that have adopted this methodology have artificially inflated the net fees for financial aid recipients for many years.
Attorneys estimate that close to 2,00,000 students may have been affected by this practice in the past two decades.
Most of the universities in question did not respond to requests for comments.
A spokesperson for Yale, wrote in an email on Monday, 10 January, that "Yale's financial aid policy is 100% compliant with all applicable laws."
Brown University also responded to the allegations.
"Based on a preliminary review, the complaint against Brown has no merit and Brown is prepared to mount a strong effort to make this clear", a spokesman said in an email.
(With inputs from The Washington Post)
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