Legislation looks to ease community college transfers

By Andrew Adams & Hannah Meisel Capitol News Illinois

Waubonsee Community College campus in Plano. (Photo courtesy WCC)

A bipartisan bill designed to make transferring to a public university in Illinois from a community college an easier and more cost-effective path will soon be sent to Gov. J.B. Pritzker for his signature.

Under a bill soon to be sent to Pritzker’s desk, community college students in Illinois would be assured that class credits related to their chosen major in certain fields of study will be transferable to all public colleges and universities in the state.

Senate Bill 2288 passed the House on a unanimous vote last week after receiving the same chamber-wide support in the Senate in March.

Under current state law, four-year colleges and universities in Illinois can decide whether to accept community college course credits as direct equivalents to required classes in a transfer student’s declared major. If the university deems the community college class as not equivalent to the one it offers, the credits earned would only count toward a student’s elective hour requirements, and he or she would have to retake a similar class at the university.

Illinois Community College Board Director Brian Durham praised the bill’s House passage in a statement Monday, May 15.

“Equalizing the value for certain credits earned at community colleges will also help reduce the stigma that work done at a community college is less valuable than at a four-year college or university,” he said.

Under the Illinois Articulation Initiative – a partnership between the Community College Board and the Illinois Board of Higher Education – there are currently 18 majors in which courses taken at a community college may be counted as equivalent classes at a state university.

SB 2288 would grant course parity under all 18 of those majors, which are in areas from computer science to theatre arts. But the bill would also require the IAI to develop an equivalency plan for elementary and secondary education majors; early childhood education is already covered.

Proponents of the bill say the development of the education major equivalency plan will help Illinois address its teacher shortage.

Upon the governor’s signature, the law would go into effect on Jan. 1.