Illinois General Assembly - Full Text of SB3441
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Full Text of SB3441  98th General Assembly




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1    AN ACT concerning education.
2    Be it enacted by the People of the State of Illinois,
3represented in the General Assembly:
4    Section 1. Short title. This Act may be cited as the Higher
5Education Distance Learning Act.
6    Section 5. Legislative declaration of public policy. In
7recent years, distance education offered by institutions of
8higher learning has been increasing, with such distance
9education being offered on an interstate basis by many
10institutions of higher learning. Often, students participate
11in such education in states where the institution of higher
12learning maintains no actual physical presence. Both the
13regulation and the availability of institutions of higher
14learning to participate in distance learning have been hampered
15by multi-jurisdictional differences between the states and
16uneven regulation among the states for the same programs.
17Various multi-state compacts have addressed this problem by
18creating a voluntary system of interstate reciprocity for
19institutions of higher learning to streamline authorization
20and regulations for institutions of higher learning that
21voluntarily agree to participate in a reciprocity program. The
22provision of such distance education is declared to affect the
23public safety and welfare and to be subject to regulation and



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1control in the public interest. It is further the public policy
2of this State that such a program of reciprocity be made
3available on a voluntary basis to participating institutions of
4higher learning and that any other institutions of higher
5learning that choose not to participate continue to be
6regulated under current laws and rules that govern distance
8    Section 10. Definitions. In this Act:
9    "Board" means the Board of Higher Education.
10    "Distance learning" means instruction offered by any means
11where the student and faculty member are in separate physical
12locations. It includes, but is not limited to, online,
13interactive video or correspondence courses or programs.
14    "Home state" means the state that regulates a participating
15institution and its distance learning programs. A state cannot
16be the "home state" unless the institution of higher learning
17either has a physical presence in that state or holds its
18principal institutional accreditation in that state.
19    "Participation agreement" means the agreement that each
20participating institution is required to sign and abide by in
21order to take advantage of the reciprocity agreement.
22    "Participating institution" means any institution of
23higher learning that offers an associate's degree or higher, in
24whole or in part, through distance learning and has voluntarily
25or willingly entered into a participation agreement to be



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1regulated by a participating home state with respect to
2institutional and program approval, complaints, and
3institutional and program reviews.
4    "Physical presence" means on-going occupation of a
5physical location for instructional purposes or maintenance of
6an administrative office to facilitate instruction.
7    "State" means any state, commonwealth, district, or
8territory of the United States that is a participant in good
9standing in a state authorization reciprocity agreement.
10    "State authorization reciprocity agreement" or
11"reciprocity agreement" means a voluntary agreement that
12establishes reciprocity between willing states for approval of
13postsecondary educational services delivered by distance
14learning beyond state boundaries.
15    Section 15. Authorization. The Board is authorized to
16participate in a state authorization reciprocity agreement on
17behalf of this State. The Board shall be the lead agency in
18coordinating interstate reciprocity for distance learning for
19participating institutions in this State.
20    Section 20. Illinois as the home state. If this State has
21been designated as the home state for a participating
22institution, then the Board shall approve, investigate,
23authorize, monitor, and establish common standards,
24reauthorize, establish, and investigate complaints, and attend



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1to other administrative matters involving distance learning,
2including complaints from students and others in this State and
3from other states where the participating institutions are
4offering distance learning under a reciprocity agreement.
5    Section 25. Illinois as the reciprocal state. If another
6state has been designated as the home state, a participating
7institution has received required approval, the participating
8institution has no physical presence in this State, and the
9participating institution does not hold its principal
10institutional accreditation in this State, then the Board shall
11allow such participating institution to offer distance
12learning in this State under a participation agreement
13authorized by this Act. The Board may not charge a fee for
14granting such reciprocal distance learning approval.
15    However, if the participating institution has another home
16state, but also has a physical presence in this State or has
17its principal institutional accreditation in this State, the
18Board may regulate the institution of higher learning and its
19distance learning programs in this State and is not bound by
20the reciprocity agreement.
21    Section 30. Application of the Act. This Act applies only
22to distance learning programs and does not affect other
23approvals of institutions of higher learning or programs
24required under the laws of this State, nor does it affect any



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1exemptions of institutions of higher learning or programs
2granted by the laws of this State. However, except as required
3in Section 25 of this Act, any participating institution that
4remains eligible and in good standing under this Act is not
5required to obtain any other approval for distance learning
6required by State law, unless the institution of higher
7learning withdraws and is removed from this reciprocity
9    Nothing in this Act shall be construed to affect the
10authority of the Attorney General to enforce the Consumer Fraud
11and Deceptive Business Practices Act and the federal Consumer
12Financial Protection Act of 2010, as authorized by 12 U.S.C.
14    Section 35. Fees. Fees to cover the cost of administration
15and enforcement of this Act shall be set by the Board by rule.
16    Section 40. Distance Learning Fund. The Distance Learning
17Fund is created as a special fund in the State treasury. All
18fees collected for the administration and enforcement of this
19Act shall be deposited into the Fund. All money in the Fund
20shall be used, subject to appropriation, by the Board to
21supplement support for the administration and enforcement of
22this Act and may not be used for any other purpose.
23    Section 45. Student refund policy. The Board, by rule,



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1shall establish minimum standards for a fair and equitable
2policy that governs refunds for students, which must be
3required for all participating institutions subject to this
5    Section 50. Equitable treatment of students. Students who
6are enrolled in institutions of higher learning governed by
7this Act, either because they are residents of the home state
8or because they are residents of participating reciprocal
9states, and who receive services from the Board under this Act
10are entitled to the same remedies, services, and redress under
11this Act, regardless of their state of residency.
12    Section 90. Rules. The Board shall adopt rules for the
13execution of the powers and duties delegated to it by this Act,
14including, but not limited to, minimum standards for
15institutions of higher learning.
16    Section 500. The State Finance Act is amended by adding
17Section 5.855 as follows:
18    (30 ILCS 105/5.855 new)
19    Sec. 5.855. The Distance Learning Fund.