Earlier this week, I issued a press release detailing my response to a recent report by Pro-Publica Illinois that some affluent parents are taking advantage of a loophole in Illinois’ law to gain college financial aid that they would otherwise not qualify for.
The disturbing practice involves parents falsely giving up guardianship of their college-bound student in order to make the student look indigent when applying for grants and loans.
The Governor has since weighed in, as has the chairpersons of the Illinois House Higher Education and Higher Education Appropriations Committees. The governor’s office has pledge to launch an investigation into potential fraud, and the House Higher Ed committees are now scheduled to meet in Chicago on August 8th to discuss the issue.
I want to say unequivocally that this kind of cheating of our financial aid system cannot be tolerated. The result of these abuses are low-income students missing out on critical financial help that they need to continue their education beyond high school. I want to thank WSIL TV News 3 for their reporting on this issue this week. I sat down with them for an interview on this topic earlier this week. You can learn more and watch my interview here:
As this story continues to unfold, please continue to monitor this space and my social media pages for updates and more information.
Murphysboro….Illinois State Representative Terri Bryant (R-Murphysboro) is expressing serious concerns following news reports on Tuesday revealing possible widespread abuse of the state and federal student financial aid system. Rep. Bryant is a standing member of the Illinois House of Representatives Higher Education and Higher Education Appropriations Committees.
“The reports that I read in the media today regarding affluent families giving up legal guardianship of their children to relatives, and then having that student apply for financial aid on their own financial merits, shows possible widespread abuse of our student loan and financial aid system,” Bryant said. “Low interest loans and MAP grants are supposed to give lower income students a better chance at receiving a post-secondary education. The money is not there for rich families to use at the expense of low income families,” Bryant said.
On Tuesday, Pro-Publica Illinois published an article on its website that detailed the disturbing practice. The news outlet’s investigation uncovered 48 separate instances in Lake County alone in the last 18 months. Rep. Bryant says she will pursue all possible avenues to stamp out fraud and any abuse of Illinois’ student loan and financial aid programs.
“What I would like to see is the legislature take action to protect our student loan and financial aid programs,” Bryant said. “As a member of the Higher Ed and Higher Ed Appropriations Committees, I am obligated to protect and defend Illinois’ institutions of higher education against abuses like these. What we are talking about here is parents are fraudulently giving up guardianship of their children to a relative, and then allowing that 18-year-old student to apply for financial aid using their own financial backgrounds.
Most 18-year-olds that I know do not have much money. This then becomes an easy way to scheme the system to get financial aid money or low cost loans that the family would not otherwise be able to get. This kind of fraud is reprehensible on many levels, not the least of which is that it teaches a horrible lesson to impressionable young people about how to get ahead.”
Bryant says low-income students are the ones that will ultimately suffer the consequences of any abuse of the financial aid system.
“The fact is that by engaging in this kind of behavior, parents are teaching their kids that it is ok to steal, to be dishonest and to receive money you are not entitled to,” Bryant said. “A truly sad result of this is that the money that is going to the students that are doing this is then not available for students from lower income homes. This is something that I will be actively pursuing in the coming legislative session. The State of Illinois must act to stop this abuse.”
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If you have any questions, concerns, or if you wish to provide your input on pending legislative matters, please do not hesitate to contact my office in Murphysboro at 618.684.1100 or Mt. Vernon at 618.242.8115.