Lawmakers to investigate use of guardianship loophole for financial aid at Illinois colleges


John O'Connor / AP

Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker, left, discusses the House action to put a constitutional amendment to implement Pritzker’s graduated income tax on the November 2020 ballot in Springfield, Ill., Monday, May 27, 2019. Voters decide whether to eliminate Illinois’ flat-rate tax system which critics claim is regressive. Rep. Robert Marwick, D-Chicago, the sponsor of the amendment which underwent nearly 3 ½ hours of debate on the House floor, looks on.

Illinois lawmakers say they will investigate the use of a loophole in the state’s guardianship law that wealthy families took advantage of to qualify their children for college financial aid.

Recent reports indicate some parents were transferring guardianship of their children to friends or relatives to make it appear they came from poorer backgrounds. Officials at the University of Illinois reported the scheme after finding several cases there.

Members of the Illinois House Higher Education Committee scheduled an Aug. 8 meeting to look into the practice.

State Rep. La Shawn Ford, a Chicago Democrat, on Thursday said it was outrageous some wealthy families have decided to game the system “at the expense of those who truly need help affording an education.”

Gov. J.B. Pritzker has joined the chorus of state and national officials blasting the practice and says he instructed his staff to investigate.