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Amid state and federal scrutiny as well as a public backlash, more than a half-dozen suburban Chicago families who had recently gone to court to give up guardianship of their college-bound teens to qualify for financial aid they wouldn’t otherwise receive are now quietly letting their cases lapse.

Though some families remain unapologetic about their use of a practice that had gone largely unnoticed until three weeks ago, they say the real issue is not that they tried to take advantage of a legal loophole but the exorbitant cost of higher education.

“A lot of families are afraid to say what they are thinking,” said one mother, whose son’s case closed last week when the family decided not to pursue it. “They have OK incomes. But having a good income does not make you able to pay for college. I would have to not drink or eat to pay for my two boys.”

She, like other parents, agreed to speak about their cases on the condition of anonymity.