Sen. Celina VillanuevaSPRINGFIELD - State Senator Celina Villanueva championed a measure that prohibits students from changing their guardianship in efforts to qualify for need-based financial aid for college.

“Students that are experiencing financial hardships should not feel pressured to change their guardianship in order to receive need-based financial aid,” said Villanueva (D-Chicago). “It is imperative that legislation is put in place to ensure that students who are seeking need-based financial receive the resources they need without being penalized due to of their financial hardships.”

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.

According to ProPublica Illinois, the cost of tuition, fees and housing for full-time students at public universities in Illinois has doubled within the past 15 years.

 These expenses pose a significant barrier for low-income households who are already struggling with the expenses of everyday necessities versus the wealthy who try to exploit financial assistance not meant for them. As a result, transferring guardianship is not the solution. Instead, students need long-term solutions in the financial aid system that will not force them to deplete their funds.

“Providing equitable educational solutions for students who need financial assistance is something I will continue to fight for,” said Villanueva. “No student should have to miss out on a chance at a brighter future no matter their financial background.”

Senate Bill 195 passed the Senate Judiciary Committee and moves to the Senate floor for full consideration.