Magazine article Insight on the News

Uncle Sam's School for Scandal

Magazine article Insight on the News

Uncle Sam's School for Scandal

Article excerpt

With the cost of college tuition these days, it's hard to blame parents for seeking out creative new ways to lighten the financial burden of subsidizing Joe Bob Jr.'s four-year beer blast at the I Felta Thigh fraternity house. But we'll try.

In what is described as the biggest bust of its kind yet -- and an object lesson to otherwise law-abiding parents who might be tempted to shade the facts a bit to get a little extra government help with those soaring tuition costs -- the federal departments of Justice and Education offices of the Inspector General recently charged 27 Chicago-area parents and financial-aid preparers with scamming at least $2.6 million from federal student-aid programs in recent years.

But those charged and the amounts of money allegedly stolen only are the tip of the iceberg, according to one source close to the investigation. Hundreds of parents in the city allegedly paid fees of between $50 and $200 to at least seven student-aid preparers who underreported the parents' incomes and falsified tax documents to make them appear eligible to receive student aid earmarked for lower-income collegians, according to investigators. …

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