McLean County Times

McLean County Times

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Reps. Caulkins, Brady speak out against families 'gaming the system' to receive financial aid


By John Breslin | Sep 29, 2019

Illinois state Rep. Dan Caulkins (R-Decatur)

Educational financial aid must go to those in need, not to families that have "scammed the system," two Republican state representatives have said in response to allegations that some parents gave up custody of their children so that they could become eligible for support.

Illinois state Rep. Dan Caulkins (R-Decatur) is supporting an inquiry into the potential scandal, which emerged publicly in a report published in late July.

“These people scammed the system, taking financial aid away from families who are truly in need,” Caulkins told the McLean County Times. “We have a responsibility to ensure that financial aid goes to students who actually need it, not to wealthy families who gamed the system for their own gain.”

Illinois state Rep. Dan Brady (R-Normal)

It is alleged that some parents, who were too well off for their children to qualify for financial aid, relinquished custody when they were in the late stages of high school. Lower-income relatives or friends were granted custody, it is claimed. 

When the students were applying for aid, they were found to be financially independent and therefore only their personal income was taken into account, according to the ProPublica report. An investigation, led by the House Appropriations-Higher Education Committee, is ongoing in Springfield. A hearing was held last month.

Following the hearing, state Rep. Dan Brady (R-Normal), Republican spokesman on the committee, argued that families that game the system means that money is diverted from those in need.

"Over the past several years we have had truly needy students who were approved for assistance through our MAP grant program but didn’t receive it because the money simply wasn’t there," Brady said. "It’s very distressing to now understand that one of the reasons for that is that dozens of families who weren’t entitled to the assistance found a way to game the system. [Last month’s] hearing was the first step in making sure that won’t continue to happen."

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Illinois Representative Dan Brady (R-105th)

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