Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker has signed into law several pieces of legislation meant to improve access and support in higher education, HB 4201, SB 3991, and HB 5464, WAND reported.
Pritzker signed into law the legislation to expand resources available to students and build on administrative efforts to expand equitable access to public universities and community colleges.
“Access to affordable, quality higher education shouldn’t be a privilege,” said Pritzker. “Today, we take a step forward in ensuring everyone—especially our historically underrepresented students—have the resources and investment necessary to thrive in our first-rate public education system. I am proud to sign these bills into law furthering our state’s commitment to educational equity for all Illinoisans.”
House Bill 4201 will call on each institution to assign a benefits navigator to guide students to seek and apply for any federal, state, or local program that provides assistance or benefits.
Senate Bill 3991 amends the Illinois Higher Education Savings Program – also known as the Children’s Savings Program. The program – first established in 2019 and provided initial funding of $2.5 million in the FY 2023 budget – made it so that all children born or adopted in Illinois on or after January 1, 2023, will have access to a 529 College Savings account with a $50 starter deposit.
Under SB 3991, the State Treasurer will be allowed to increase the deposit amount for children in financially insecure households if funds are available.
“Given how important and costly it is to attend college or trade school, every child born or adopted in Illinois, should have the tools to save and pay for their education,” said State Treasurer Michael Frerichs.
House Bill 5464 – effective immediately – requires State public universities and community colleges to develop and implement equity plans to increase the access, retention, completion, and student loan repayment rates for minority students, rural students, adult students, women, and people with disabilities who are traditionally underrepresented in education programs and activities.