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.