Rep. Brady, House Higher Ed. Committee Begin Review of Guardianship Changes to “Game” the Financial Aid System

State Representative Dan Brady and other members of the House Committees overseeing higher education issues have begun an investigation into revelations that some high-income parents in Illinois have relinquished custody of their teen children to qualify them for college financial aid. Brady (R-Normal), made it clear at the hearing that well-off families who “game the system” take limited financial aid dollars from students who are truly in need.

“Over the past several years we have had truly needy students who were approved for assistance through our MAP grant program but didn’t receive it because the money simply wasn’t there. It’s very distressing to now understand that one of the reasons for that is that dozens of families who weren’t entitled to the assistance found a way to game the system. Thursday’s hearing was the first step in making sure that won’t continue to happen,” said Brady, who serves as the Republican Spokesman on the House Appropriations-Higher Education Committee.

Reports indicate there have been dozens of instances recently in Illinois in which relatively wealthy parents, whose income would disqualify their children from receiving financial aid, have used a loophole in the system to transfer legal guardianship of their teens to friends, co-workers or others, in order for the children to be declared financially independent. Representative Brady said once that is accomplished only the children’s personal income is considered in financial aid applications. Brady said testimony at this week’s hearing from financial aid representatives from Universities across the state mark the beginning of working on a legislative solution to close this unfair loophole.

“Parents taking advantage of this loophole need to understand that they could be robbing someone else’s child of the ability to attend college at all,” Representative Brady said. “The good news is that financial aid offices are now on the lookout for this particular problem, and committee members on both sides of the aisle are working together to permanently close this loophole.”