Talitha Baker on Recent Report Discovers Many Affluent Parents Are Giving Up Custody of Their Children for More Financial Aid

The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect those of BCNN1.

In a shocking recent story reported by ProPublica, reporters discovered 40 cases of Illinois parents relinquishing their guardianship of the children, in order to help them qualify for more financial aid. The parents were typically professionals working jobs that put them in the upper-middle-class bracket; “lawyers, a doctor and an assistant schools superintendent, as well as insurance and real estate agents.” During their teens’ junior or senior year of high school, the parents typically handed custody over to a friend, aunt, cousin, grandparent or other trusted adult in an effort to make their child appear “low-income” and qualify for more financial aid.

Is this a scam to try to find loopholes and access more money, similar to the recent celebrity college bribery scandal? Or, does this desperate ploy reveal that higher education prices are simply too expensive? Perhaps, it’s a bit of both.

Scamming the System?

Although the report unearthed a few dozen cases of this scheme in action in Chicago’s affluent suburbs, it’s likely that the practice of giving up guardianship is happening in communities across the country.

ProPublica spoke to Andy Borst, director of undergraduate admissions at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, about the moral implications of this tactic. “It’s a scam. Wealthy families are manipulating the financial aid process to be eligible for financial aid they would not be otherwise eligible for. They are taking away opportunities from families that really need it.”

A Sign that College is Prohibitively Expensive

Graduating from college is still the best way to ensure professional success for a young adult, but the expenses to earn that diploma are proving increasingly debilitating. The average debt incurred by a college graduate is $37,172 and when a young person is focused on paying off this debt, they lose the ability to invest in other behaviors which may increase their net worth; they hesitate to buy a house, to invest in retirement, to embark on a graduate degree or grow wealth in other ways.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Talitha Baker