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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
5Student Debt Assistance Act.
6    Section 5. Definitions. In this Act:
7    "Debt" means any money, obligation, claim, or sum due or
8owing or alleged to be due or owing from a student to an
9institution of higher education. "Debt" does not include the
10fee, if any, that is charged to students by an applicable
11provider for the actual cost of providing an academic
12transcript to a student.
13    "Institution of higher education" includes, but is not
14limited to, an institution to which the Private Business and
15Vocational Schools Act of 2012 or the Private College Act
16applies and a public institution of higher education included
17in the definition of "public institutions of higher education"
18under the Board of Higher Education Act. "Institution of
19higher education" also includes a person engaged in the
20business of providing postsecondary education, via
21correspondence or online or in this State, to an individual
22located in this State, regardless of whether the person has
23obtained authorization from the Board of Higher Education to



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1operate in this State or is accredited.
2    "Official transcript" means the academic transcript or a
3similar academic record of each current or former student of
4an institution of higher education that is deemed official,
5authenticated, certified, or bona fide and that contains
6information customarily provided on an official academic
7transcript, including, but not limited to, courses taken,
8terms, grades, degrees or credentials conferred, and any other
9similar information.
10    "Unofficial transcript" means the academic transcript or a
11similar academic record of each current or former student of
12an institution of higher education that contains information
13customarily provided on an official transcript, but cannot be
14used to transfer academic credits to another institution of
15higher education.
16    Section 10. Withholding of unofficial transcripts
17prohibited. An institution of higher education may not do any
18of the following:
19        (1) Refuse to provide an unofficial transcript to a
20    current or former student on the grounds that the student
21    owes a debt.
22        (2) Condition the provision of an unofficial
23    transcript on the payment of a debt, other than a fee
24    charged to provide the transcript.
25        (3) Charge a higher fee for obtaining an unofficial



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1    transcript or provide less favorable treatment of a
2    request for an unofficial transcript because a current or
3    former student owes a debt.
4    Section 15. Withholding of official transcripts. An
5institution of higher education:
6        (1) must provide an official transcript of a current
7    or former student to a current or potential employer, even
8    if the current or former student owes a debt;
9        (2) may not condition the provision of an official
10    transcript to a current or potential employer on the
11    payment of a debt, other than a fee charged to provide the
12    transcript; and
13        (3) may not charge a higher fee for transferring an
14    official transcript to a current or potential employer or
15    provide less favorable treatment for such a request
16    because a current or former student owes a debt.
17    Section 20. Physical or financial hardship policy.
18    (a) Beginning with the 2022-2023 school year, every
19institution of higher education must have a policy instituting
20a financial or physical hardship withdrawal process. The
21process must work to limit debt owed by students who have to
22withdraw from the institution due to a significant financial
23or physical hardship and to assist those students if and when
24they choose to re-enroll. Types of hardship shall include, but



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1are not limited to:
2        (1) serious injury or illness;
3        (2) chronic illness;
4        (3) a medical issue of a family member in which the
5    student has to become a part-time or full-time caretaker
6    of that family member;
7        (4) a mental health condition;
8        (5) a sudden or consistent lack of transportation
9    issue; and
10        (6) a significant cost of living increase.
11    (b) Information regarding the existence of the financial
12or physical hardship withdrawal process shall be publicized on
13the institution of higher education's website, and information
14must be given to students as part of any school orientation
16    Section 25. Student debt and credit report. If an
17institution of higher education chooses to send a current or
18former student's past due debt to a debt collection agency,
19the past due debt may not be reported to any credit reporting
20agencies, except as provided by federal law.
21    Section 99. Effective date. This Act takes effect upon
22becoming law.