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Illinois Legislative Report By Leo Welch

Uniform admissions: HB 230 (Thapedi) creates the Public University Uniform Admission Act to require each public university in this State to admit first-time freshman applicants as undergraduate students if the applicant graduated with a grade point average in the top 10 percent of the studentís high school graduating class in one of the two school years preceding the academic year for which the applicant is applying for admission and (1) the applicant graduate from an accredited public or private high school in this State or from a high school operated by the United States Department of Defense; (2) the applicant successfully completed the minimum college preparatory curriculum requirements for admission to the university or satisfied the ACTís College Readiness Benchmarks on the ACT college admission assessment applicable to the applicant or earned on the SAT college admission assessment a score of at least 1,500 out of 2,400; and (3) if the applicant graduated from a high school operated by the United States Department of Defense, the applicant is a State resident or is entitled to pay tuition fees at the rate provided for State residents. The bill also provides that the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is not required to offer admission to applicants who qualify for automatic admission in excess of the number required to fill 75 percent of the universityís enrollment capacity designated for first-time resident undergraduate students in an academic year. The bill requires ISAC to develop and implement a program to increase and enhance efforts of institutions in conducting outreach to academically high-performing high school seniors in the State who are likely eligible for automatic admission under the Act. IBHE opposes this legislation. Referred to Rules Committee.

College Affordability Act: HB 1316 (Lang/McGuire) requires IBHE to establish and administer an Illinois Excellence Program to incentivize the recruitment and retention of promising faculty throughout the Illinois system of higher education. The bill also requires ISAC to implement and administer a program beginning with the 2018-2019 academic year to award College Affordability grants to certain Illinois residents who have graduated from an approved high school with a cumulative grade point average of at least a 3.0 on a 4.0 scale and are seeking a degree from a public institution of higher education. HB 1316 goes on to set forth the terms and conditions of the program, including requiring a two-year residency obligation following termination of the academic program and requiring students awarded grants under the program to participate in a student loan counseling program through ISAC, as well as the grant amount. It further requires ISAC to implement and administer a program in which ISAC shall award work¨study stipends to applicants who are grant recipients and who agree to work for 5 to 15 hours per week as peer mentors or tutors for other grant recipients. Lastly, HB 1316 requires ISAC to implement and administer a program in which ISAC shall buy-out the private student loans of any eligible participants and sets forth eligibility requirements. The bill amends the State Finance Act to create the special funds created herein. The programs of this bill are all subject to appropriation, which, according to ISAC, would require at least $300 million to implement. IBHE joined with ISAC in opposing the bill. HB 1316 passed the House and is in the Senate Assignments Committee.

Credit for Prior Learning Act: HB 2404 (Willis/Rose) would create the Credit for Prior Learning Act and require each public university to submit its policies and procedures for students to earn credit for prior learning to IBHE and each community college to submit its policies and procedures for students to earn credit for prior learning to ICCB. At a minimum, these procedures shall include a listing of the types of documentation acceptable and the dates of inclusion for which prior learning is acceptable. The bills also require IBHE and ICCB to adopt rules to permit public higher education institutions to award credit for prior learning after the assessment of prior learning experiences for documented learning that demonstrates achievement of all terminal objectives for a specific course or courses. Public Act 100-0261.

Adult Diploma: HB 2527 (Sosnowski/Stadelman) authorizes a public community college district or non-profit entity in partnership with a regional superintendent of schools, the chief administrator of an intermediate service, or a school district to design a high school diploma program for adult learners. To be eligible the entity must demonstrate that it has been unable to establish an agreement with a secondary or unit school district to provide the program. The program must be approved by ICCB according to approval guidelines established in the bill. Public Act 100-0514.

Assisting veterans in higher education: Legislation to implement recommendations of the Illinois Taskforce on Veteransí Suicide is reflected in HB 2647 (Kifowit/Cullteron, T.). This bill contains provisions that the Illinois Department of Veteransí Affairs, in coordination with institutions of higher education, shall provide proactive outreach as part of an educational success program for veterans experiencing difficulties in higher education. Public Act 100-0482.

High school equivalency alternative credentialing: HB 2740 (Welch/Rezin) provides that ICCB shall establish alternative methods of credentialing for the issuance of high school equivalency certification. Allows ICCB to offer the credentialing on or after January 1, 2018, based on high school credit, post-secondary credit, foreign diplomas, and completion of a competency-based program as approved by ICCB. This legislation implements the recommendations of the Alternative Credentialing Methods Taskforce approved by ICCB on January 20, 2017. Public Act 100-0130.

Dual-Credit/Dual-Enrollment Notification: HB 2724 (Ford/Martinez) requires high schools to inform all 11th and 12th grade students of dual enrollment and dual credit opportunities at public community colleges for qualified students. This bill has passed both houses. HB 3601 (Greenwood/Clayborne) provides that East St. Louis School District 189 is encouraged to allow students in grades 11 and 12 to take classes at Southwestern Illinois College for dual credit at no cost to the student. Public Act 100-0133.

Vacancies on community college boards: HB 3091 (Bourne/Manar) amends the Illinois Public Community College Act to address deficiencies in the law as it pertains to vacancy on a local community college board of trustees. The bills provide that when a vacancy occurs in a community college board, the elected successor shall serve the remainder of the unexpired term. Community college trustees are elected to 6-year terms. The bills also provide that the vice-chairman shall perform the duties of chairman if there is a vacancy in the office of the chairman or in case of the chairmanís absence or inability to act. If there is a vacancy in the office of the chairman and vice-chairman, a chairman pro ternpore shall be appointed. Public Act 100-0273.

Educational Credit for Military Experience Act: HB 3701 (Greenwood/Clayborne) creates the Educational Credit for Military Experience Act to provide that before June 1, 2018, each institution of higher education shall adopt a policy to award academic credit for military training applicable to the studentís certificate or degree requirements. Requires the policy to apply to any individual who is enrolled in the institution of higher education and who has completed a military training course that meets certain requirements. Provides that institutions of higher education shall develop procedures for evaluating courses and awarding credit. Requires institutions of higher education to submit their policies for awarding credit to IBHE and ICCB for review before June 30, 2018, and before June 30 of every other year thereafter. Requires IBHE to collect data in the Illinois Higher Education Information System on students who are veterans or have military service to assess enrollment and completions outcomes. This legislation implements the recommendations of the Military Prior Learning Assessment Task Force. Public Act 100-0195.

Community colleges BSN degree authority: SB 888 (Manar) allows a board of trustees of a community college district to establish and offer a baccalaureate-level nursing education program and confer a bachelor of science degree in nursing upon the meeting of specified conditions. It also requires approval of both ICCB and IBHE. The number of programs that may be approved is limited to 20 until August 31, 2022. The bill also requires ICCB to conduct a statewide evaluation of nursing programs established under the provisions and report on the results of the evaluation by July 1, 2022. There were amendments filed to the bill to try to garner support, including limiting the programs to 11 community colleges and 7,000 students over the next five years, but none advanced out of committee. IBHE opposes the legislation. The sponsor opted not to move the bill.

Modification of the Career & Workforce Transitions Act: SB 1563 (Clayborne/Ammons) amends the Career and Workforce Transition Act to provide that a public community college district may accept credits as direct equivalent credits or prior learning credits, as determined by the district and consistent with the accrediting standards and institutional and residency requirements of ICCB, the Higher Learning Commission, other State and national accreditors, and State licensing bodies, as appropriate. The legislation requires that, beginning with applications submitted in 2017, an institution must submit its application for approval to ICCB on or before July 1 of a given year and ICCB must render its approval decision on or before September 15 of that same year. ICCB must also post on its website a list of all institutions that have received approval, beginning on January 5, 2018. Finally, the legislation provides for an appeals process for all decisions of ICCB that result in non-approval of an institution. The legislation was introduced to provide clarity and guidance to ICCB in response to the delay in adopting administrative rules. The bill was approved in the House with amendments and is currently awaiting concurrence in the Senate.

Underrepresented Groups in Academia: HJR 2 (Thapedi/Harris) creates the Underrepresented Groups in Academia Task Force within IBHE to examine strategies to grow underrepresented groups in institutions of higher education and to ascertain the viability of increasing the number of laboratory schools in the State and creating State-owned and operated trade schools. Resolution adopted by both houses.