Wealthy parents in Illinois, including lawyers, doctors and real estate agents, reportedly give up custody of their high school children to help them obtain scholarships and financial support reserved for low-income students.
Individual investigation conducted by ProPublica Illinois and The Wall Street Journal Over the past year and a half, they have discovered dozens of cases in Chicago's Tony suburbs where parents wanted to transfer the legal custody of their teenage years to grandparents, aunts, friends or even colleagues.
The idea behind the tactics, which is legal in Illinois, is that as soon as parents give up custody, the children can declare themselves financially independent for college applications and declare dramatically lower incomes.
Presumably Illinois is reportedly giving custody of them to help them get needs-based scholarships and get financial help to go to college, including the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (photo)
The Wall Street Journal story cites an exemplary article in which a student whose parents owned a $ 1.2 million home ultimately earned only $ 4,200 on a summer job, and secured $ 47,000 in scholarships and federal scholarships to attend a private university live where the annual tuition cost $ 65,000.
Students are not required to state their parents' income on federal financial assistance requests if they are legally independent. In those cases, family income is not taken into account when determining the financial assistance package of an applicant.
Andy Borst, director of undergraduate admissions at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, called the tactic & # 39; a scam & # 39;
& # 39; It's a scam, & # 39; Andy Pro, director of undergraduate recording at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, told ProPublica. & # 39; Rich families manipulate the process of financial assistance to be eligible for financial assistance that they would otherwise not be eligible for. They take away opportunities from families who really need it. & # 39;
The revelations come just a few months after a bombing scandal in which more than 50 people, including actresses Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman, have been accused of paying tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes to get their children into elite universities.
In the past 18 months, the investigative journalists from ProPublica Illinois have discovered nearly four dozen petitions in Lake County, Illinois to transfer custody of children.
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has identified 15 applicants who had been declared independent prior to admission, three of whom are now sophomore.
Borst said the university informed the trio of students halfway through their first year that their financial assistance would be reduced.
Some students who had transferred their guardianship to a guardian have visited some of the most prestigious schools in Lake County, including Stevenson High School
& # 39; We have not heard a single complaint, and that is also a big red flag, & # 39; said Borst
For its part, the magazine said it has identified 38 similar cases of custody in the same area.
According to the newspaper, most parents who had given custody of their children had their own homes ranging from $ 500,000 to more than $ 1 million.
A mother who spoke to the Journal on condition of anonymity explained that the family has a combined annual income of $ 250,000, but they had already spent $ 600,000 to send their other children to college.
To help her senior high school daughter get $ 20,000 in need-based financial help to attend a private school with $ 65,000 in tuition, the mother has transferred her legal custody to a colleague.
The custody law currently in the books of Illinois leaves much room for judges to approve custody transfer for any reason, as long as all parties involved agree that this is in the best interests of a child, even if the parents are able to to support her financially.
Many of the requests for custody transfers received by ProPublica openly state that the chosen guardian & # 39; financial and educational support and opportunities & # 39; can offer that the parents could not offer.
The children who seek custody to obtain financial assistance and needs-based scholarships have visited some of the county's most prestigious schools, including Stevenson High School and Glenbrook North High School.
Some applicants insured federal scholarships and scholarships that allowed them to visit the University of Missouri (photo)
Some eventually went to large public institutions, including the University of Wisconsin, the University of Missouri, and the University of Indiana, while others opted for smaller private colleges.
While some critics who have interviewed ProPublica for the story, the practice of using custody to help the children of wealthy parents pay for their studies have been beaten as unethical, lawyers handling cases of custody transfer pointed out that this is not against is law.
& # 39; It is a solution that they have been able to find as study costs rise and they cannot pay & # 39 ;, said Mari Berlin of Kabbe Law Group about the families that her company represented. & # 39; It is in the interests of the minor what the purpose of the statute is. & # 39;
The US Department of Education told the magazine that it is investigating the case.
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