When government got in the college financing businesses, it may have done so to give people in the low income brackets a shot at pursuing a college degree. But in the end, all that this interference accomplished was to inflate tuition fees, as the demand for higher education increased considerably and artificially.
Needless to say, college became unaffordable for both the rich and the poor. And now, scores of high-income families are beginning the feel the pressure to offer their children the best education possible while being unable to do so due to the high costs attached to some of the most renowned universities.
In order to make things work, a new report alleges, dozens of these parents are transferring the guardianship of their teenage children to friends or relatives so they may qualify for federal, state, or institutional financial aid.
According to MarketWatch, many of these parents live in the suburbs of Chicago. They are doctors, lawyers, real estate agents, and often have household incomes that topple $250,000 and yet, they are quite literally ready to give up their own children so they can afford to . And if that wasn’t enough, they are also ready to lie about their children’s situation, as prospective students must appear to live independently from their parents.
Encouraged by college counseling firms and lawyers, these parents are trying to game a system made even more intricate thanks to the ballooning student debt crisis. But by exploring loopholes, nobody can accuse them of going against the law. And if it weren’t for the perverse incentives laid out before them thanks to the artificial demand for college and government’s easy money policies, they may have not thought that taking part in the guardianship scheme would do them any good in the first place.
“We need to keep our focus on the fact that what has motivated this terrible behavior is that we have an incredibly high cost of college and a Rube Goldberg system for financing it that enables manipulation of this kind,” said Caitlin Zaloom, the author of Indebted: How Families Make College Work at Any Cost.
“An overly complex system will always promote gamesmanship. Bad on them, but bad on us too.”
Asking The Right Questions
As schemes like these become well known, some worry that government agencies responsible for financial aid may want to review the rules. This could “make it more difficult for students who are legitimately independent to qualify for aid,” Mark Kantrowitz, the publisher of SavingforCollege.com, told MarketWatch.
Unfortunately, these concerns are misplaced as they do not prompt us to ask the right questions.
The problem isn’t that rich kids are making it difficult for the poor ones to go to college, but the fact that tuition has become prohibitive precisely because of the existence of accessible taxpayer-backed cash.
As Democratic presidential candidates discuss ways to worsen the situation by actually forgiving students’ debts or making it even easier for them to get their hands on loans they can’t pay back, we should be discussing the nefarious influence the state has had in the making of such a terrible crisis in the first place.