Wealthy parents are trying to trick the college system again as some of them give up custody of their children for financial aid.
Wealthy parents in Chicago are finding loopholes for their children to get need-based college financial aid and scholarships. This comes months after college admissions scandal “Varsity Blues” was made public.
This new system consists of parents giving up their parental rights to their children. In a students junior or senior year in high school, wealthy parents are signing their children over to a friend, aunt, cousin or grandparents. With this in place, that declares a student financially independent of their families so they can qualify for federal, state and university aid.
“It’s a scam,” said Andy Borst, director of undergraduate admissions at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. “Wealthy families are manipulating the financial aid process to be eligible for financial aid they would not be otherwise eligible for. They are taking away opportunities from families that really need it.”
Borst was first made aware of this situation from a high school counselor who found it odd that one of their students was invited to an orientation program for low-income students. Upon checking the student’s financial aid application, they discovered that she had obtained a legal guardian.
The University of Illinois discovered three students who just completed freshman year and 11 who plan to enroll in the fall had done the same thing.
ProPublica Illinois who is investigating the case says that they uncovered 40 guardianship cases fitting this profile between January 2018 and June 2019. These cases include parents that are lawyers, doctors, assistant schools superintendent, as well as insurance and real estate agents.
Borst also became aware of this problem when the university notified three students that their university-based financial aid would be reduced, they didn’t hear anything.
“We didn’t hear any complaint, and that is also a big red flag,” Borst said. “If they were needy, they would have come in to talk with us.”
For now, the University is asking those students who recently entered into a guardianship, more questions. these questions include but are not limited to, whether they have contact with their parents, who they live with and who pays for their health insurance and cellphone bill. The questions have deterred some families from continuing to seek university aid, Borst said.
As more news about this is released, we will keep you updated!