Last month, a federal class action lawsuit was filed against 16 universities — Brown University, California Institute of Technology, University of Chicago, Columbia University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Duke University, Emory University, Georgetown University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Northwestern University, University of Notre Dame, University of Pennsylvania, Rice University, Vanderbilt University and Yale University — for allegedly colluding to price fix by eliminating competitive financial aid offers. This week, the plaintiffs expanded their lawsuit to included Johns Hopkins University. The group also added new arguments to their amended complaint, alleging the endowments of these 17 universities are so large that they could help low-income students without having to price fix.
As Yahoo Finance reports in a piece entitled “Plaintiffs Expand Class Action Suit Alleging Illegal Elite University Conspiracy to Reduce Financial Aid,” “The amended complaint first adds Johns Hopkins University as a defendant. In 2021, Johns Hopkins joined the 568 Presidents Group, also known as the ‘568 Cartel.’ The amended complaint alleges that, in joining the Cartel, Johns Hopkins adopted the use of a ‘Consensus Methodology’ (CM) for determining financial aid, which is a central component of the alleged scheme that has artificially reduced the amounts of financial aid the universities awarded to their students. The students and families allege that the conspiracy among the 17 defendants effectively raised the net price of attendance, harming in the aggregate more than 200,000 students from working and middle-class families. The amended complaint further alleges that all of the defendant universities using the CM—now including Johns Hopkins—failed to follow a need-blind admissions policy and therefore did not meet the terms of a narrow statutory antitrust exemption under Section 568 of the Higher Education Act.”
But, wait, Johns Hopkins along with 16 other highly selective universities aren’t actually need-blind in spite of touting need-blind policies? Could this really be true? Please do note the sarcasm. After all, it’s not like we at Ivy Coach haven’t been saying as much from atop our soapbox in elite college admissions for many years. These universities have long been lying about being need-blind. If they were truly need-blind, so many of these institutions wouldn’t ask if applicants need-financial aid on the very document that admissions officers can read with their own two eyes. The hypocrisy is truly beyond words. And for a university that just over two years ago so proudly claimed to eliminate the practice of legacy admission in the name of equity thanks to a major donation by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, well, it rang as suspect to us at the time and it rings as suspect to us now — at least until Johns Hopkins releases data on the percentage of admits to the Classes of 2025 and 2026 who are the children and grandchild of alumni. If the figure is down significantly from past years, we’ll believe the school. If it’s not, we won’t. Release the numbers, JHU!
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