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
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.