A Brief Summary and Analysis of Section 568

Over the past 20 years, Congress has recognized that it is in the continued public interest for colleges and universities to work together to develop financial aid policies that enhance access to higher education. Accordingly, an antitrust exemption authorizes efforts by need-blind institutions to develop and maintain common principles of how need should be determined when awarding non-federal, institutional student aid.

In 1992, Congress included a provision in the Higher Education Act reauthorization that made it permissible for institutions to agree to award financial aid on a need-only basis. Just prior to the expiration of that provision, Section 568 was added to the Improving America's Schools Act of 1994 (15 U.S.C. 1 note) that both extended the language in Section 1544 and made certain key features of the MIT Settlement available to a broader group of institutions. Congress has extended this provision several times, including most recently in 2015. On August 6, 2015, S.1472 was signed into law extending Section 568 of the Improving America's Schools Act of 1994 to September 30, 2022.

What Does Section 568 Do?

Under the law, colleges and universities that are need-blind in their admissions decisions qualify for a limited antitrust exemption that allow them to establish common principles for assessing financial need. The antitrust exemption does not permit the institutions to discuss individual students’ financial aid packages, but does allow eligible institutions to agree:

      • to award aid only on the basis of demonstrated financial need;
      • use common principles of analysis for determining the need of students for that aid; and
      • use a common application form for institutional aid.

The amendment specifically prohibits the sharing of any information on the amount or terms of any prospective, individual aid award and makes clear that the exemption does not apply to the awarding of federal financial aid.The amendment specifically prohibits the sharing of any information on the amount or terms of any prospective, individual aid award and makes clear that the exemption does not apply to the awarding of federal financial aid.