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Gaming the System

Joe Ranvestel

Posted on August 2, 2019 21:38

1 user

In an effort to afford the increasing costs of college, parents have taken a new approach to afford tuition for their children. It's controversial, legal, and has university admissions irritated.

Imagine walking into a luxury store - pick your favorite. Now imagine that as you browse the sales floor, an associate asks for your tax information, yearly income, and the information of your income sources that will afford you to buy your products. 

This is essentially the college admissions process. 

As financing options become increasingly more available to prospective students, the cost of college has continued to increase exponentially. On one end of the spectrum, there are the wealthy prospects, who can keep up with the cost increases. On the other end, there are the low income prospects, who have a variety of specialty grant and scholarship options based on financial need. And in the middle is admissions limbo - families who earn too much to be considered "low income," but not wealthy enough to keep up with the costs.

So what's a middle class family to do? Some suburban families have the answer.

In Chicago suburbs, middle class families have found a work around to the financial need system by relinquishing custody of their children. Parents will then appoint a different family member or friend (from a lower income status) to be the legal guardian for the children. Then, when these children apply to college, they can use the lower income information from their new guardian, thereby playing the system. 

The tactic has since been discovered, and it has caused quite a stink in the higher education community. Some university admissions representatives view the method as a scam, and some schools have begun asking questions to determine who might be using this tactic. While the process is legal, universities, along with federal and state governments, are attempting to take actions to curb this practice. 

The grants that these low income students receive are typically awarded on a first come, first serve basis. So while the money isn't being reallocated to the new guardianship students per se, it increases their chances at receiving aid, and increases the overall applicant pool. The proverbial well dries up quicker with more people going to it. 

Beyond the university concerns, this does pose a difficult question as to the moral of the story. It is interesting to see parents finding a new alternative to help their children. On the other hand, I have to wonder the ramifications of changing the guardianship of your children. 

Joe Ranvestel

Posted on August 2, 2019 21:38

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