How to Get Your Money From the ‘568 Cartel’ Lawsuit

Find out if you’re eligible to receive as much as $2,000 — or more.
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Mark J. Drozdowski, Ed.D.
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Mark J. Drozdowski, Ed.D., is a senior writer with BestColleges. He has 30 years of experience in higher education as a university administrator and faculty member and teaches writing at Johns Hopkins University. A former columnist for The Chronicle ...
Updated on March 21, 2024
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  • Some students and alumni of 17 elite universities are entitled to settlements in the "568 Cartel" case.
  • A website offers more information for claimants, who may be eligible for as much as $2,000 or more.
  • Thus far, 10 of the 17 universities have settled for a total of $284 million.

If you're a fairly recent graduate or current student of one of 17 elite universities, you might be entitled to money resulting from settlements in the "568 Cartel" case — as much as $2,000 or more.

So far, 10 of the 17 defendant universities in this class-action antitrust suit have settled claims totaling $284 million.

The lawsuit, filed in 2022, alleges these private colleges violated the Sherman Antitrust Act because they failed to uphold a commitment to need-blind admissions as required by Section 568 of the Improving America's Schools Act of 1994.

The claim contends these universities conspired to artificially reduce financial aid awards and increase the net cost of attendance by using a consensus methodology to determine aid.

Since 2004, more than 200,000 students have paid higher tuition and incurred larger debt absent competition among these institutions, the suit alleges.

Now, these students and alumni are entitled to damages.

The settlements to date are as follows:

  • University of Chicago: $13.5 million
  • Emory University: $18.5 million
  • Yale University: $18.5 million
  • Brown University: $19.5 million
  • Columbia University: $24 million
  • Duke University: $24 million
  • Dartmouth College: $33.75 million
  • Rice University: $33.75 million
  • Northwestern University: $43.5 million
  • Vanderbilt University: $55 million

These institutions have yet to settle:

  • University of Pennsylvania
  • Georgetown University
  • Cornell University
  • University of Notre Dame
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • California Institute of Technology
  • Johns Hopkins University

Any monetary decisions resulting from this case will benefit all plaintiffs, not just students and alumni of the settling institutions.

To enable individuals to determine their eligibility, the plaintiff's attorneys established a website, There, you can also read more about the case, peruse relevant legal documents, and sign up for updates.

According to the website, here's who is eligible to receive cash awards ("claimants"):

All U.S. citizens or permanent residents who have during the Class Period (a) enrolled in one or more of Defendants' full-time undergraduate programs, (b) who received at least some need-based financial aid from one or more Defendants, and (c) whose tuition, fees, room, or board to attend one or more of Defendants' full-time undergraduate programs was not fully covered by the combination of any types of financial aid or merit aid (not including loans) in any undergraduate year.

The Class Period is defined as follows:

  • For Chicago, Columbia, Cornell, Duke, Georgetown, MIT, Northwestern, Notre, Rice, Vanderbilt, Yale — from fall term 2003 through the date the court enters an order preliminarily approving the Settlement.
  • For Brown, Dartmouth Emory — from fall term 2004 through the date the court enters an order preliminarily approving the Settlements.
  • For Caltech — from fall term 2019 through the date the court enters an order preliminarily approving the Settlement.
  • For Johns Hopkins — from fall term 2021 through the date the court enters an order preliminarily approving the Settlement.

Additional details on the allocation plan for claimants can be found here.

The website also provides these important deadlines for further action:

  • May 13, 2024: Deadline to exclude yourself from these settlements and to object or comment on these settlements
  • July 19, 2024: Final approval hearing

Payments for claims will vary depending on a number of factors, the website notes. Claimants will be entitled to as much as $2,000 or more.

Given that seven universities have yet to settle claims, the total amount of settlement damages is likely to increase, which could have implications for all claimants.

Be sure to register for updates on the site. BestColleges will update this page as the case progresses.