New state law allows Illinois high schoolers to earn college credit

Updated 7/27/2016 12:03 PM
  • David McSweeney

    David McSweeney

A new state law allows Illinois high school students to earn college credit while in high school, ultimately making college tuition more affordable.

Gov. Bruce Rauner last week signed the legislation calling on community colleges to make courses available to high school students for free.

Community college districts can voluntarily enter into an Accelerate College partnership with any school district within their boundaries. Coursework completed by high school students in a community college would be transferrable to all public universities statewide.

Senate and House lawmakers unanimously approved creating the statewide Accelerate College pilot program, which has a sunset date of three years to allow for legislative review.

Barrington Hills Republican state Rep. David McSweeney sponsored the legislation in the House, and Wheaton Republican Sen. Michael Connelly was the Senate sponsor.

"College tuition is only getting more and more expensive each year," McSweeney said. "This new law will open the door for Illinois high school students to earn dual credit for certain classes while they are still in high school. It is an effort to help students save money on their college tuition costs and to better assist their transition from high school to college."

The law is modeled after Algonquin-based Community Unit District 300's Accelerate College program, which allows qualifying high school students to take a full-year of college classes tuition-free during senior year in partnership with Elgin Community College.

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