NASFAA Mention: Another College Admissions Scandal? To Get Financial Aid, Parents Lose Custody of Children

"Dozens of college students from well-to-do families may be getting money reserved for poorer families thanks to a legal loophole: They're giving up custody of their children," USA Today reports. 

"The tactic is legal, but ethically questionable, said Andrew Borst, the director of undergraduate admissions at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Chief among his concerns: Financial aid money is limited.

'Money we give to one student is money not going to another student,' Borst said.

Here's how the scheme worked. ProPublica Illinois and The Wall Street Journalindependently reported Monday that families near Chicago would give up legal guardianship of their children to relatives or friends. Students would then file for financial independence, which effectively opened the door to financial aid they wouldn’t have been able to access while under the legal care of their parents.


The guardianship twist is definitely unusual and hard to spot, said Jill Desjean, a policy analyst at the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators. After all, the students in question correctly said they were in a legal guardianship.

'It's not a thing that can raise a red flag,' Desjean said. 'It's not a thing that you can catch through some sort of process of verification or authentication.'

It’s also unclear how much money these students might have been able to secure. The maximum yearly amount for a federal Pell Grant is roughly $6,200, which students need not pay back.Access to that award depends on family income."

NASFAA's "Notable Headlines" section highlights media coverage of financial aid to help members stay up to date with the latest news. Articles included under the notable headlines section are not written by NASFAA, but rather by external sources. Inclusion in Today's News does not imply endorsement of the material or guarantee the accuracy of information presented.


Publication Date: 7/31/2019

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