New bill to increase accessibility for dual-credit classes

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Ryan Ostry
Bugle Reporter
@RyanOstry_BR18
rostry@buglenewspapers.com

In an effort to make the cost of college more affordable, State Senator Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant has initiated a law that will increase accessibility for dual-credit classes in the state of Illinois.

“After listening to parents and realizing dual-credit was becoming more and more of an option, we needed to solidify the relationship from high schools and junior colleges,” Bertino-Tarrant said.

Senate Bill 2838 that was passed by the Senate and House with bipartisan support requires a public university or community college to collaborate with local high schools to grant dual credit to a student who completes an accredited course.

Bertino-Tarrant said that not only will this law help the students in the long run, but it will also have a domino effect for more possible future laws to similarly take place.

“I think we just repeatedly hear how high the cost is for a college education and the significant debt kids are graduating with,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “If we can build this relationship between high schools and community colleges we can make it a little easier on the kids.”

Dual credit, which allows students to gain credit for post secondary coursework while they are still in high school, is set up to help parents as well.

“This law is going to help parents financially,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “The community college image has completely changed from what it used to be and this is a win-win situation for all parties involved.

Past research has proven that students who participated in dual-credit opportunities often has lead to positive academic outcomes, especially for students from low-income backgrounds and first generation college students.

This new bill that won’t be in full effect until Jan. 1, 2019, has already shown sides of optimism from citizens.

“The reaction I’ve seen has been very positive so far,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “We had the training commission, administrators and teachers all at the conversations and its been a collaboration give and take, everyone at the table recognizes the importance of dual credit.”

Under the current bipartisan law, students are eligible to receive up to a total of 60 hours of dual credit, and Bertino-Tarrant said the fact community colleges offer these classes for a lot lower cost than universities is a huge for the kids.

“We recognize the cost of college education is very high,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “Community colleges offer these gen ed classes at a significantly lower cost, that’s one of the greatest benefit of this bill, getting two years under your belt at community college will pay off in the long run.”

Even though this bill was generally passed with not a lot of issues, Bertino-Tarrant said that there were some regulations that the board had to follow in order to actively pursue to get this done the way they wanted it to be done.

“Community colleges are restricted to a high learning commission, so they can’t break policy at all,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “We had to follow pretty strict rules, so getting them to mesh that was the biggest road block we would hit, but we had a lot of creative minds and we all came together in the end.”

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News,Region: Suburbs,Region: South Suburbs,Region: Joliet

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September 19, 2018 at 11:29AM

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