© 2023 University of Missouri - KBIA
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

MU Looking to Revisit Some Financial Aid Decisions After ProPublica Report

Sara Shahriari

“Several dozen” MU student accounts were being scrutinized this week in connection with a ProPublica Illinois investigation that showed parents from the Chicago suburbs had given up guardianship of their children so they could obtain financial aid.

MU spokesperson Christian Basi said the accounts were being analyzed using a number of “data points” associated with students’ personal and financial records, to determine if they are ineligible for aid.

“We know what we’re looking for,” Basi said.

Although ProPublica’s investigation focused on students and families in the Chicago suburbs, there is evidence that this practice is happening nationally, Basi said.

However, the university had yet to discover any in-state cases.

“To date, we haven’t seen any of these type of thing coming from in-state Missouri students,” he said. “But we do know that this is not something that is confined to Illinois, based on conversations that we have had with other colleagues around the country.”

The investigation by ProPublica Illinois revealed parents have been manipulating their children’s guardianship status to gain need-based financial aid from universities in the Midwest — MU among them.

The investigation, published Monday, showed how parents gave up legal guardianship during their children's final years of high school to qualify their children for financial support they would not get otherwise.

ProPublica found more than 40 such cases filed between January 2018 and June 2019 in the Chicago suburb of Lake County. ProPublica said it was still looking at records to determine the scope of the practice.

MU draws more students from Illinois than any other neighboring state. There were 4,454 students from Illinois enrolled at MU last year, according to university data

Four of five MU students receive some form of financial aid through scholarships, grants and loans, according to MU's website.

The financial aid granted to students who don't qualify for it hurts the resource flow of MU, which could use the funds elsewhere, whether it be for assisting other students or for university investment.

Read more from our partners at the Columbia Missourian.