Chris Grissom doesn’t mince words about where he stands on the growing trend of parents in Illinois giving up custody of their children in order to get need-based college financial aid for them.
"I think it’s a scam that needs to be investigated,” Grissom, chairman of the Jackson County Republican Party, told the Carbondale Reporter. "There’s a limited amount of aid out there and there are people that actually need that help."
A recent ProPublica investigation found that a rising number of suburban parents are now ceding financial responsibility for the children in the name of securing greater government-backed financial aid for them. Researchers detail taking full advantage of a legal loophole entails relinquishing legal guardianship during the student’s junior or senior year of high school. The new legal guardianship arrangement then allows the student brand themselves in need and thus eligible for financial aid to which they may otherwise not be entitled.
The growing controversy comes on the heels of the national “Varsity Blues” college admission scandal, where rich, celebrity parents were accused of essentially paying for their children's acceptance into some of the most prestigious universities across the country.
"Basically, what these parents are doing is saying the kids are emancipated,” Grissom said. "The bottom-line is they’re denying any financial responsibility for the kids’ education or trying to mitigate their financial responsibility."
In all, ProPublica has found upwards of 40 guardianship cases fitting the aforementioned profile from over the last year in the Chicago suburbs of Lake County alone. The students involved included scholars, athletes and artists that were headed to some of the state’s largest public institutions. Researchers also noted they came from homes where the parents included lawyers, a doctor and an assistant schools superintendent.
"Working people and disadvantaged people that otherwise wouldn’t have the means to see their kids get a college education are the real losers here," Grissom said. "I’m not absolutely sure how we make sure the field stays level."