University of Illinois administrators broke down how they discovered families were “taking funds from others” by giving up legal guardianship of their children to Illinois lawmakers on Thursday.
Admission and financial aid officials for the public university explained how a high school guidance counselor asked them why a student was receiving need-based money when they didn’t fit the requirements for it.
What U of I thought was an isolated incident turned into multiple reports of families, from the Chicago suburbs, giving up guardianship and giving it to a less wealthy family member or friend so their kids qualify for aid.
After finding the loophole the university now flags applications that involve a guardianship to try to determine its legitimacy but they can only withhold scholarship money their institution provides students. They told legislators they want more power over state and federal funds.
“So we are doing that for our institutional aid we don’t believe we have the authority to use that information to award the state map grant or the federal aid. If we were given the authority to exercise professional judgment in situations that like we would use that,” U of I Director of Undergraduate Financial Aid Michelle Trame said.
Trame also asked for an evaluation of guardianship transfer laws since the families that participated in this loophole did so through the legal process.
“Our hope that the information that you gather today will be an important first step in putting in policies and safeguards going forward that will close this loophole and prevent families from taking money from those that truly need them the most,” she said.
Bloomington Rep. State Representative Dan Brady brought up the issue of perjury saying it is the big issue here because the families might have given up guardianship solely for money. How much money was given to families who participated in this is unknown at this time.