Brown University Settles Antitrust Admissions Lawsuit for $19.5 Million

Providence, Rhode Island – Brown University has reached a settlement agreement in an antitrust admissions lawsuit filed against the institution and 16 other defendants. The university has agreed to pay $19.5 million to resolve the lawsuit, according to a press release issued on January 23rd.

The class-action lawsuit, filed in January 2022, alleges that Brown colluded with other colleges in the 568 Presidents Group to manipulate the calculation methodologies for financial aid, resulting in artificially inflated net prices of attendance. The plaintiffs argue that these colleges did not adhere to the intended need-blind admission policies as mandated by federal law.

Under Section 568 of the Improving America’s Schools Act of 1994, colleges are allowed to collaborate on financial aid calculations if they make admission decisions without considering the financial circumstances of the applicants. However, the lawsuit claims that members of the 568 Presidents Group gave preferential treatment to applicants who were children of donors, which goes against the intended need-blind admission policies outlined in the Act.

Brown University was a member of the 568 Presidents Group from 2003 to 2012 before the group disbanded in November 2022. Prior reporting by the Brown Daily Herald had also indicated evidence suggesting that Brown’s need-blind admission policies may have allowed admission officers to give preferential treatment to applicants from low-income households.

When the lawsuit was initially filed, University Spokesperson Brian Clark dismissed its merits, stating that Brown would vigorously defend itself. In the recent statement released by the university, they reiterated their belief that the case is without merit. The university further explained that in order to conserve time and financial resources, they have chosen to settle the matter and focus on supporting the education of their students.

Brown University is the fifth defendant to publicly settle in this case. Previous settlements have been reached by the University of Chicago, Emory University, Rice University, and Vanderbilt University, according to court and financial documents reviewed by the Brown Daily Herald.

This settlement represents a significant development in the ongoing antitrust admissions lawsuit against Brown University and the 16 other co-defendants. The university’s decision to settle for $19.5 million underscores their desire to resolve the matter efficiently and concentrate on their core mission of providing education to their students. This is a developing story, and updates will be provided as more information becomes available.