CHICAGO – Legislators will demand answers and begin exploring legislative solutions to recent reports that wealthy parents are exploiting a legal loophole to dishonestly receive college financial aid intended for middle-class and low-income families. Members of the Illinois House Higher Education Committee and House Appropriations-Higher Education Committee will convene a hearing on the matter on Thursday, Aug. 8 at 10 a.m. in the Bilandic Building in Chicago.
“Taxpayer-funded assistance, such as Monetary Award Program grants, are a critical tool for middle-class and struggling students seeking a college degree and opportunity to pursue a career,” said Appropriations-Higher Education Chair La Shawn K. Ford, D-Chicago. “Particularly in the wake of former Governor Rauner’s budget crisis in which these students took the brunt of the pain, it is outrageous to learn that some wealthy families have decided to game the system at the expense of those who truly need help affording an education.”
The committees will hear testimony regarding a report from ProPublica Illinois, which found wealthy Illinois parents had turned over guardianship of their college-aged children to friends or relatives. The student then declared financial independence in an effort to qualify for scholarships and other forms of financial aid intended for middle-class and low-income students. This manipulative practice may have prevented other Illinois students from receiving need-based assistance they deserved.
“It pains me to see that individuals have decided to be dishonest in applying for college financial aid,” said Higher Education Committee Chair Carol Ammons, D-Urbana. “As the cost of college skyrockets, we must take appropriate steps to ensure our finite resources are only going to those who truly need it, not those elites who have rigged the system again and again to their own advantage.”