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- State Senator Celina Villanueva championed a newly signed law to prevent students from taking advantage of loopholes to qualify for need-based financial aid for college.

“Students who are legitimately eligible for financial aid fear not receiving such assistance at the hands of others taking part of a guardianship change scam,” said Villanueva (D-Chicago). “It’s disheartening that people are using this tactic to essentially take away aid from students who need it.”

Senate Bill 195 is a direct response to previous public reports that Illinois students became eligible for need-based education financial assistance through the practice of "opportunity hoarding." Opportunity hoarding is the practice of exploiting a loophole in the Probate Act by transferring legal guardianship from a parent to a relative or friend in lower income brackets or by declaring financial independence.

In 2019 alone, approximately 82,000 students eligible for a state grant for low-income students didn’t receive it because there wasn’t enough money. Many higher education officials believe the increase in guardianship change is at fault.

Villanueva’s law will prevent guardianship changes if the primary purpose is to reduce the financial resources available for them to qualify for need-based financial aid.

“The students of tomorrow need our help today,” said Villanueva. “I will continue to fight for more equitable educational resources and stand up for the disadvantaged students who have fallen victim to a lack of assistance because of this loophole.”

Senate Bill 195 was signed into law Friday.