REPORT: Wealthy Parents Giving Up Legal Guardianship in College Tuition Scam

Pro Publica is reporting on a new way for parents to avoid paying the full cost of their children’s college education.

In a disturbing trend discovered in Chicago, affluent parents are giving up legal guardianship of their junior and senior high school student children in order to receive college financial aid.  Parents are exploiting a legal loophole which allows the children, who are now under the guardianship of friends or relatives, to declare their financial independence using their much diminished income as a basis for applying for scholarships and direct tuition assistance.

Parents in several other counties in Illinois are also being investigated for this practice which was discovered when a high school guidance counselor in suburban Lake County asked a University of Illinois Urbana-Champagne admissions director why one of her students was invited to orientation for low income students. The admissions director, Andy Borst, found at least 14 students and their families who participated in the scam.  Occupations of the parents include a doctor, lawyers, an assistant school superintendent and real estate agents.

On the heels of the Varsity Blues scandal where affluent high profile parents bribed top tier universities to accept their children, higher education is receiving another well deserved black eye.  Champagne-Urbana is now flagging applicants who have legal guardians for further investigation

It’s also another indication that having wealth means having the resources to game the higher education system the U.S.


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