Grassley antitrust exemption aimed at helping college students passes unanimously

College Financial Aid -- FAFSAFrom Press Release


The Senate this week unanimously cleared bipartisan legislation to extend an expiring antitrust exemption that allows certain colleges and universities to collaborate on issues of need-based financial aid.  The legislation, introduced by Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, Ranking Member Patrick Leahy and Senator Mike Lee, was also unanimously passed by the committee last week.

“This bill ensures that our colleges and universities can continue to work together so that students applying for financial aid are treated fairly and consistently without the threat of unnecessary litigation,” Grassley said.  “I thank my colleagues for their work to pass this bill in the Senate and look forward to House approval to get this bill to the President for his signature.”

“Exceptions to our antitrust laws require meaningful oversight and I have worked with my cosponsors to seriously consider the impact of the Need-Based Educational Aid Act of 2015,” Leahy said. “This bill allows the covered colleges and universities to focus their resources on ensuring the most qualified students can attend some of the best schools in the nation, regardless of family income. I am glad the Senate has unanimously passed this legislation, and I urge the House to do the same.”

The Need-Based Educational Aid Act of 2015 extends the Section 568 antitrust exemption, which allows colleges and universities to collaborate on the formula they use to determine a family’s ability to pay for college.  The antitrust exemption permits higher education institutions to agree to award aid only on the basis of financial need and use a common application for aid.  By allowing financial aid professionals to work together in these ways, the exemption helps ensure that the colleges and universities covered by this section of the law admit students without regard to ability to pay.  It also prevents needless litigation over the development of principles for determining financial need.  This exemption was first enacted in 1994, and has been reauthorized by Congress three times without opposition, most recently in 2008.  A 2006 Government Accountability Office report found that the activities permitted by the exemption have not resulted in harm to competition.