Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Are early-decision programs are anticompetitive?

Recently, the Antitrust Division of the US Department of Justice issued letters to certain elite colleges and universities asking them to preserve documents detailing formal or informal agreements to share the identities of accepted students with other colleges, communications with other schools sharing the identities of accepted students, and records of action taken based at least in part on information received through those communications with other schools.[1]

The letters indicate that the DOJ is investigating a “potential agreement between colleges relating to their early decision practices.”[2] Antitrust case law involving colleges and universities is sparse, and higher education historically has not been a major target of antitrust enforcement—though it is coming under increased scrutiny by the Trump administration.

This article discusses the legal theories that might be behind the government’s investigation, and whether early-decision programs are anticompetitive.

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