Lawmakers Hold Hearing Into Questionable College Admissions Tactic

The higher-income parents are giving up custody of their kids to help them get more financial aid for college

Illinois lawmakers held a hearing Thursday to discuss a new college admissions scandal hitting campuses across the state.

The scandal, which came to light in a ProPublica investigation released in late July, involved dozens of wealthy families in suburban Lake County who went to court to give up custody of their college-bound children so they could qualify for need-based financial aid they otherwise wouldn’t have been eligible to receive.

In response, the Illinois House’ Appropriations and High Education committees held a joint-hearing to discuss the issue.

“We are not here to prosecute,” Rep. Carol Ammons said. “We are simply here to get the facts of how this happened, and to make corrections.”

Representative Katie Stuart said she was “disappointed” to learn about the maneuver, calling it an unfair advantage for wealthier families that enabled them to get financial aid intended for lower-income students.

“It’s just disheartening,” she said.

Representative LaShawn Ford, who chairs the House Appropriations Committee on Higher Education, said he would like to subpoena some of the Lake County parents identified in the ProPublica story to hear their side of the story.

“So often we hear about how government should stay out of the way, (but) this situation) proves that government can’t stay out of the way,” he said.

Ford also said he wanted to draw attention to issues surrounding the affordability of college.

According to the ProPublica story, over four dozen instances of the guardianship filing were found in Lake County alone, and similar petitions were found in at least five other Illinois counties.

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