URBANA, Ill. (WCIA)– Some parents gave up guardianship of their teenagers so they would be eligible for financial aid. Now the U of I says it’s doing what it can to make sure this doesn’t happen again. These students are touring campus, some with big dreams of one day becoming an Illini, but there’s a question on many of their minds. How are we going to afford this?
“There are other options. I mean there’s scholarships,” said Abby Adasiak. What about no longer being legally responsible for your kids? The U of I says last year it became aware of a pattern. Parents from wealthy areas in the Chicago suburbs were transfering legal guardianship of their children during their senior year of high school. That makes them eligible for significant need based grants they otherwise wouldn’t be able to get. “Wealthy families I feel like they’re gaming the system you know. They’re working through a loophole,” said Steve Schroeder.
That’s something Elizabeth Sotiropoulos says she’s seen happen as an owner of Illini Tutoring. She says she has had families ask about falsifying things like their race or income to get more money for school. “It teaches students that if you have money the rules don’t apply to you,” said Elizabeth Sotiropoulos of Illini Tutoring LLC.
Sotiropoulos says it’s not always about finances. “Maintaining some family tradition of going to a certain school or maybe having a very impressive college name behind that child,” said Sotiropoulos. U of I says this type of behavior takes away from families who really need the help. “That actually makes me kind of upset to know that you’re cheating the system,” said adasiak, “You have parents such as myself of a minority and lower income family that is working as hard as I am to make sure that he’s getting what he needs.” The school has contacted the Department of Education and the Illinois Student Aid Commission about these concerns. They’re also adding another aid of screening for all financial aid applications.