Illinois Passes New Law Promoting Equity in Higher Education

DePaul University’s Lincoln Park campus is seen largely empty at the start of the pandemic. (Photo by Max Herman / NurPhoto via Getty Images)

NurPhoto / NurPhoto via Getty Images

On Monday, Illinois Governor JB Pritzker signed a package of laws to promote equity and opportunity at Illinois higher education institutions. The three bills, Senate Bill 1085, Senate Bill 815, and House Bill 3359, help protect prospective students and their families from predatory college planning businesses, do advance equity in state funding for higher education and ensure that personal support workers can take courses with students with disabilities, free of charge.

“With the laws I sign today, Illinois will continue to lead the nation in providing students with more equitable access to higher learning opportunities,” said Pritzker. “This isn’t just a victory for our students and their families – it’s a victory for the future of our entire state. Making the university more affordable and accessible while helping Illinois maintain its designation as a primary source of talent and innovation will grow our economy and create jobs across our state. “

Aiming to protect families in the university planning process, SB 1085, also known as the Segura Law, creates the Law on the Protection of Consumers of Educational Planning Services. The new law adds protections for consumers to ensure that the families of prospective students are not exploited by predatory for-profit college planning companies.

The legislation specifies the conditions that must be included in a contract for educational planning services and any contract inconsistent with the law will be canceled. Contractual requirements include the specification of certain information, such as contact details of the consumer and the service provider.

To increase fairness for all families, if a college planning provider speaks a language other than English, then they are required to translate all required disclosures and documents. Additionally, SB 1085 prohibits college planning providers from charging registration or maintenance fees. The bill comes into force on January 1, 2022.

“As the state’s college access and financial aid agency, we want to make sure all students and families have access to the college planning services they need and deserve,” Eric Zarnikow, executive director of the Illinois Student Aid Commission, said in a statement. “This consumer protection measure will help ensure that families are not trapped in abusive long-term contracts for educational planning services such as finding college and on-demand assistance. financial aid, and let them know that similar services are available free of charge from a student’s school, library, ISAC or a variety of principle organizations. “

“For over twenty years, I have worked with families seeking help after having already paid or signed contracts with companies that charge extra either for no service at all or for services available free of charge from them. ‘reputable organizations,’ said Jacqueline. Moreno, executive director of ISAC, College Access and Outreach, in a statement. “As the university becomes more expensive, these organizations have proliferated and prey on the neediest students and first generation students. Finally, the Segura law offers protection and recourse to families. “

In order to establish an equity-based funding model for the allocation of state funds to public universities, SB 815 establishes the Commission on Equitable Funding of Public Universities. The Commission will assess existing funding methods, while recommending specific data-driven approaches to the General Assembly to fund Illinois public universities more equitably.

The 30-person commission will be co-chaired by four: one member appointed by the Speaker of the House and the Speaker of the Senate, one member of the Chairman of the Illinois Higher Education Council, and one appointed by the Governor. While the members of the Commission will serve without compensation, the IBHE will provide administrative support. By July 1, 2023, the Commission will publicly publish the findings and recommendations on the IBHE website. SB 815 is effective immediately.

“This legislation will ensure that Illinois funding for public universities is focused on equity and that institutions have the resources they need to close equity gaps, two core strategies of the new strategic plan. ‘IBHE, A Thriving Illinois,’ said IBHE Executive Director Ginger Ostro in a report. “We thank the governor and the sponsors for establishing this commission. Illinois’ economic future and educational equity are inseparable. Our funding systems must recognize and reinforce this.”

“I am honored to have led the work on SB815, which will help advance a new model of higher education funding in the State of Illinois. The ultimate goal is to seek ways to better fund our public universities with an equity lens, “State Representative Carol Ammons, D-Urbana, said in a statement.” This is clearly a statement. next step in the development of a fair and adequate education system and I appreciate Governor Pritzker’s signing on this historic legislation. “

HB 3359 allows a student personal support worker to attend a class with the student. The legislation also prevents IBHE from charging PSW tuition fees or fees to attend class.

PSWs can help in circumstances such as a child or adult living with a disability. The Illinois Department of Social Services defines a PSW as someone who can assist people with activities of daily living, supervision, or teaching skills that promote safety and well-being. HB 3359 is effective immediately.

“Thanks to the governor and sponsors of HB 3359, this legislation enables students with disabilities to have the support they need in the classroom and enables an educational environment where students and adults can thrive, in a thoughtful collaborative experience and really inclusive. Grace B. Hou, secretary of the Illinois Department of Social Services, said in a statement.

“I am honored to have been able to serve as the main sponsor for this bipartisan legislation and to see it enacted by the governor,” State Representative Chris Bos, R-Lake Zurich, said in a statement. “When I learned of the situation involving a voter in my riding, I was frankly shocked. The fact that not one, but two public community colleges prevented a student with an intellectual disability from having his support worker with him in class made no sense. Today, we’re making sure this doesn’t happen again in Illinois, and we’re making sure all students have access to the support they may need to be successful in the classroom.

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