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University of Missouri officials told KBIA Tuesday they're scrutinizing "several dozen" student accounts after ProPublica Illinois reported that wealthy parents are forgoing legal guardianship to "scam" universities into qualifying their children for need-based financial aid.

Why it matters: Although ProPublica’s investigation focused on students in the Chicago suburbs, there is evidence that this practice is occurring nationally, University of Missouri spokesperson Christian Basi told the Columbia Missourian.

The big picture: The University of Missouri was one of several colleges identified by ProPublica in a report published Monday as giving aid to students of parents using the "loophole."

"A number of the children are high-achieving scholars, athletes and musicians who attend or have been accepted to a range of universities, from large public institutions, including the University of Wisconsin, the University of Missouri and Indiana University, to smaller private colleges."
— ProPublica report

What they're saying: Basi told the Columbia Missourian the college had yet to uncover a case, but it was analyzing data points associated with students’ personal and financial records to determine if they're eligible for aid. He told ABC 17 News if the university did uncover any cases, it would report them to the federal government.

  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign director of undergraduate admissions Andy Borst told ProPublica the university now asks more questions of students in such instances, which has deterred some families from continuing to seek university aid.
"It’s a scam. Wealthy families are manipulating the financial aid process to be eligible for financial aid they would not be otherwise eligible for. They are taking away opportunities from families that really need it."
— University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign's Andy Borst to ProPublica

Go deeper

USAID chief tests positive for coronavirus

An Air Force cargo jet delivers USAID supplies to Russia earlier this year. Photo: Mikhail Metzel/TASS via Getty Images

The acting administrator of the United States Agency for International Development informed senior staff Wednesday he has tested positive for coronavirus, two sources familiar with the call tell Axios.

Why it matters: John Barsa, who staffers say rarely wears a mask in their office, is the latest in a series of senior administration officials to contract the virus. His positive diagnosis comes amid broader turmoil at the agency following the election.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
3 hours ago - Health

COVID-19 shows a bright future for vaccines

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Promising results from COVID-19 vaccine trials offer hope not just that the pandemic could be ended sooner than expected, but that medicine itself may have a powerful new weapon.

Why it matters: Vaccines are, in the words of one expert, "the single most life-saving innovation ever," but progress had slowed in recent years. New gene-based technology that sped the arrival of the COVID vaccine will boost the overall field, and could even extend to mass killers like cancer.

5 hours ago - Health

Beware a Thanksgiving mirage

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Don't be surprised if COVID metrics plunge over the next few days, only to spike next week.

Why it matters: The COVID Tracking Project warns of a "double-weekend pattern" on Thanksgiving — where the usual weekend backlog of data is tacked on to a holiday.