Desperate Parents and College-Bound Kids

First, we had “Operation Varsity Blue,” a sting in which 50+ parents, coaches, test administrators, etc. were caught getting kids admitted to prestige colleges by laying down serious scratch, from $15,000 to $6+ million. Now we have “Operation Signing Over Kids.” The Department of Education is investigating a new trend in the wealthy suburbs. Parents in the tony suburbs who do not want their children going to school with the riff-raff in cheaper state universities and community colleges are signing over legal guardianship of their children to less wealthy relatives and friends so that their children qualify for financial aid.

As documented in the Wall Street Journal (Guardianship Ploys Taps Aid for College,” Wall Street Journal, July 30, 2019, p. A1. One mother (with household income in excess of $250,000), transferred guardianship to her business partner. With that accomplished, all her 17-year-old daughter had to report on her financial aid application was $4200 in summer earnings. So, let’s do the math for the daughter’s $65,000/year college expenses:

$27,0000 merit scholarship
$20,000 need-based financial aid
$47,000 TOTAL

Leaving $18,000 that the daughter must pay, so she hit up the grandparents and they are kicking in this portion.

Mom is paying nothing, but assures that she has no assets, no equity, and no cash, but apparently a gullible and/or beholden business partner. Mom says she spent everything on paying for college for her older children. Do these parents realize the implications of signing over legal guardianship? No straw man transactions allowed in the courts — no “legal guardianship solely for the purpose of duping the Department of Education” is yet available.No say in medical decisions. No say in nada, and then they turn 18, and Poof! No more legal guardianship.

Just a simple suggestion for parents and children: Choose a college within your means. Work together to plan and save and choose a school that make financial sense. You might be better off spending your dough on graduate school. In fact, perhaps the kids could consider getting a graduate degree at the school of their choice after they are working– online offerings these days are phenomenal, and employers love to help with the finances.

And one simple suggestion for TV wizards and producers — a reality show. We need a reality show tracking these desperate (desperado?) parents and the lengths they go to for prestige. Signing your kids away is, the Barometer suspects, the second in a series of limitless ploys employed by the gaming snobs seeking cookie-cutter lives to ensure the success of their children. Oh, could the Barometer tell them stories, from both personal and classroom experience.

About mmjdiary

Professor Marianne Jennings is an emeritus professor of legal and ethical studies from the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University, retiring in 2011 after 35 years of teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in ethics and the legal environment of business. During her tenure at ASU, she served as director of the Joan and David Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics from 1995-1999. In 2006, she was appointed faculty director for the W.P. Carey Executive MBA Program. She has done consulting work for businesses and professional groups including AICPA, Boeing, Dial Corporation, Edward Jones, Mattel, Motorola, CFA Institute, Southern California Edison, the Institute of Internal Auditors, AIMR, DuPont, AES, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Motorola, Hy-Vee Foods, IBM, Bell Helicopter, Amgen, Raytheon, and VIAD. The sixth edition of her textbook, Case Studies in Business Ethics, was published in February 2011. The ninth edition of her textbook, Business: lts Legal, Ethical and Global Environment was published in January 2011. The 23rd edition of her book, Business Law: Principles and Cases, will be published in January 2013. The tenth edition of her book, Real Estate Law, will also be published in January 2013. Her book, A Business Tale: A Story of Ethics, Choices, Success, and a Very Large Rabbit, a fable about business ethics, was chosen by Library Journal in 2004 as its business book of the year. A Business Tale was also a finalist for two other literary awards for 2004. In 2000 her book on corporate governance was published by the New York Times MBA Pocket Series. Her book on long-term success, Building a Business Through Good Times and Bad: Lessons from Fifteen Companies, Each With a Century of Dividends, was published in October 2002 and has been used by Booz, Allen, Hamilton for its work on business longevity. Her latest book, The Seven Signs of Ethical Collapse was published by St. Martin’s Press in July 2006 and has been a finalist for two book awards. Her weekly columns are syndicated around the country, and her work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Chicago Tribune, the New York Times, Washington Post, and the Reader's Digest. A collection of her essays, Nobody Fixes Real Carrot Sticks Anymore, first published in 1994 is still being published. She has been a commentator on business issues on All Things Considered for National Public Radio. She has served on four boards of directors, including Arizona Public Service (1987-2000), Zealous Capital Corporation, and the Center for Children with Chronic Illness and Disability at the University of Minnesota. She was appointed to the board of advisors for the Institute of Nuclear Power Operators in 2004 and served on the board of trustees for Think Arizona, a public policy think tank. She has appeared on CNBC, CBS This Morning, the Today Show, and CBS Evening News. In 2010 she was named one of the Top 100 Thought Leaders in Business Ethics by Trust Across America. Her books have been translated into four different languages. She received the British Emerald award for authoring one of their top 50 articles in management publications, chosen from over 15,000 articles. Personal: Married since 1976 to Terry H. Jennings, Maricopa County Attorney’s Office Deputy County Attorney; five children: Sarah, Sam, and John, and the late Claire and Hannah Jennings.
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