By Srishti Sharma
Lone Tree, Colorado
Sixteen American colleges—including six within the Ivy League—are accused of conspiring to limit financial aid for lower-income students. These high-prestige universities include Rice, Yale, M.I.T., Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Georgetown, and Penn.
The suit was filed by five former college students who claim that the schools have been responsible for the “overcharging of over 170,000 financial-aid recipients by at least hundreds of millions of dollars.”
Their practices were ruled illegal in federal court when five graduates from Vanderbilt, Northwestern, and Duke sued with this claim. They desired to compensate people who did not receive full coverage of tuition or room and board fees from one of the sixteen need-blind universities since 2003. The concept of need-blind universities stems from Section 568, which is an exemption from antitrust laws stating certain colleges don’t decide admission based on a student’s financial status. This also permits universities to collaborate with other schools on par with their status to conspire together and engage in questionable acts. “Privileging the wealthy and disadvantage[ing] the financially needy are inextricably linked,” the suit said. “They are two sides of the same coin.”
Representatives from Dartmouth College, and the Universities of Pennsylvania, Chicago, Cornell, Notre Dame, Emory, Northwestern, Duke and Rice denied any comments on the claim filed due to their intrusive behaviors.
Making students with an income disadvantage pay more at high-ranked institutions demonstrates how opaque the U.S. university system is. Few candidates pay full tuition in the first place. 43.2 million Americans have student loan debt, according to the Education Data Initiative, which puts the overall debt in the US at 1.75 trillion dollars.
Adding the pressure of the COVID-19 pandemic further constraints financial abilities, thus making acts such as this more prevalent and appalling. The student debt crisis in the United States is boggling the minds of almost every American, even though education remains a top priority in the country.