In addition to bribing school officials for admission, parents are now setting up phony guardianships of their children to avoid having their assets considered by colleges:
Dozens of suburban Chicago families, perhaps many more, have been exploiting a legal loophole to win their children need-based college financial aid and scholarships they would not otherwise receive, court records and interviews show.
Coming months after the national “Varsity Blues” college admissions scandal, this tactic also appears to involve families attempting to gain an advantage in an increasingly competitive and expensive college admissions system.
Parents are giving up legal guardianship of their children during their junior or senior year in high school to someone else — a friend, aunt, cousin or grandparent. The guardianship status then allows the students to declare themselves financially independent of their families so they can qualify for federal, state and university aid, a ProPublica Illinois investigation found.
“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.”
While ProPublica Illinois uncovered this practice in north suburban Lake County, where almost four dozen such guardianships were filed in the past 18 months, similar petitions have been filed in at least five other counties and the practice may be happening throughout the country. ProPublica Illinois is still investigating.
Borst said he first became suspicious when a high school counselor from an affluent Chicago suburb called him about a year ago to ask why a particular student had been invited to an orientation program for low-income students. Borst checked the student’s financial aid application and saw she had obtained a legal guardian, making her eligible to qualify for financial aid independently.
The University of Illinois has since identified 14 applicants who did the same: three who just completed their freshman year and 11 who plan to enroll this fall, Borst said.
You will notice that it is the well off, not poor people who are pulling this scam.
The rich are different from you and me, they are significantly less ethical than the rest of us.
That’s probably how they get rich in first place.
To not quote Honoré de Balzac, it appears that he never actually wrote this, “At the base of every great fortune there is a great crime.”