From MIT in 1992:

The unprecedented antitrust case had its origins in an investigation begun in 1989 by the Justice Department. The Antitrust Division of the Justice Department reportedly sent civil investigative demands to some 57 colleges, who were asked to submit thousands of pounds of records over many years. In 1989, the last full year of participation in the agreement, 23 colleges attended the annual spring meeting to discuss the relative need of commonly admitted students.

The case was fought by MIT after the eight Ivy League colleges agreed in May, 1991 – while admitting no culpability – to sign a consent decree barring such cooperation for 10 years, unless Congress passes legislation to authorize it.

The civil suit involved an agreement that MIT and the eight Ivy League colleges entered into in the 1950s. The colleges agreed to admit students solely on the basis of merit and distribute their scholarship money solely on the basis of need.

They also agreed to establish methods of determining what the applicants’ family could afford and – in the case of applicants who had overlapping offers of admission from more than one of the colleges – to discuss significant differences in the colleges’ judgements of the individual students’ financial need.

The biggest beneficiaries to the ending of Overlap were non-rich, highly desirable applicants. On average, middle class African-American students probably benefited more than anyone.

And readers wonder why I am sometimes suspicious of elite colleges . . .

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