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Illinois Parents Are Helping Their Children Get College Financial Aid They Wouldn’t Otherwise Qualify For. Help Us Figure Out How They Do It.

Are you a parent, student, school administrator or someone else who has seen this in action? We'd love to hear from you.

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ProPublica Illinois has uncovered a tactic used by dozens of well-off families in suburban Chicago that allows students to receive college financial aid they wouldn’t otherwise get.

Here’s what we know about how it works:

  • Parents turn over guardianship of their teenagers during their junior or senior year in high school to someone else — a friend or relative.
  • Once the student turns 18, they are able to apply for financial aid as an "independent," since tax documents are only required from parents.
  • Financial aid applications to public colleges and universities may be easier to get approved, as private institutions often require supplemental documentation.
  • Almost four dozen guardianship transfers have been approved in the last 18 months just in Lake County.
  • These Lake County cases tend to be handled by the same two law firms.

What we'd like to know more about:

  • Where else is this happening in Illinois or other states?
  • How long has this been happening?
  • Who, if anyone, has raised concerns about this?
  • Is this happening where you live?

Tell us more about this issue by answering the following questions.

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