Illinois General Assembly - Full Text of SB2055
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Full Text of SB2055  102nd General Assembly




State of Illinois
2021 and 2022


Introduced 2/26/2021, by Sen. Omar Aquino


30 ILCS 105/5.935 new
110 ILCS 947/65.110 new

    Amends the Higher Education Student Assistance Act. Provides that, beginning with the 2022-2023 academic year, the Illinois Student Assistance Commission shall implement and administer a program to award Early Childhood Workforce Free College grants to all eligible child care workers seeking to enroll in an eligible postsecondary institution; defines terms. Specifies grant eligibility and amount, renewal requirements, and repayment requirements. Requires the Illinois Early Learning Council to establish the Early Childhood Workforce Free College Advisory Committee to advise the Commission on all matters relating to the program. Amends the State Finance Act to create the Early Childhood Workforce Free College Fund. Effective immediately.

LRB102 17175 CMG 22626 b






SB2055LRB102 17175 CMG 22626 b

1    AN ACT concerning education.
2    Be it enacted by the People of the State of Illinois,
3represented in the General Assembly:
4    Section 5. The State Finance Act is amended by adding
5Section 5.935 as follows:
6    (30 ILCS 105/5.935 new)
7    Sec. 5.935. The Early Childhood Workforce Free College
9    Section 10. The Higher Education Student Assistance Act is
10amended by adding Section 65.110 as follows:
11    (110 ILCS 947/65.110 new)
12    Sec. 65.110. Early Childhood Workforce Free College grant
14    (a) In this Section:
15    "Child care or early childhood education setting" means a
16facility licensed under the Child Care Act of 1969, a licensed
17or license-exempt child care provider under Section 9A-11 of
18the Illinois Public Aid Code, a federal Head Start or Early
19Head Start program, or a preschool program funded under
20Section 2-3.71 of the School Code.
21    "Child care worker" means an Illinois resident who has



SB2055- 2 -LRB102 17175 CMG 22626 b

1been working in any child care or early childhood education
2setting for at least 2 years or, at some point during the last
35 years, worked in such a setting for the equivalent of 2
5    "Eligible postsecondary institution" means any public
6institution in this State, including the University of
7Illinois, Southern Illinois University, Chicago State
8University, Eastern Illinois University, Governors State
9University, Illinois State University, Northeastern Illinois
10University, Northern Illinois University, and Western Illinois
11University, any public community college in this State, or any
12other public university, college, or community college now or
13hereafter established or authorized by the General Assembly.
14    "Eligible postsecondary program" means a program that
15includes a curriculum of courses to maintain a classroom role
16in any child care or early childhood education setting,
17leading to a Child Development certificate or associate degree
18(CDA), an associate or bachelor's degree in Early Childhood
19Education (ECE), or a Professional Educator License (PEL).
20    "Student aid" means a scholarship or grant, other than an
21Early Childhood Workforce Free College grant created under
22this Section, awarded to a student from any source that does
23not require repayment. "Student aid" does not include student
24loans and work-study awards.
25    (b) Beginning with the 2022-2023 academic year, subject to
26appropriation, the Commission shall implement and administer a



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1program to award Early Childhood Workforce Free College grants
2to all eligible child care workers seeking to enroll in an
3eligible postsecondary program at an eligible postsecondary
4institution. All of the following terms and conditions shall
5apply to the program:
6        (1) To be eligible for a grant, a student must (i)
7    possess a high school diploma or a high school equivalency
8    certificate, (ii) be admitted to and enrolled in an
9    eligible postsecondary program at an eligible
10    postsecondary institution, and (iii) have an individually
11    adjusted gross income equal to or less than $65,000.
12        (2) Students applying for a grant must annually
13    complete the Early Childhood Education Workforce Free
14    College grant application. A student who has the capacity
15    to draw federal student aid shall complete the Free
16    Application for Federal Student Aid each academic year in
17    which he or she seeks to receive a grant.
18        (3) To continue to receive a grant, a student must
19    maintain Illinois residency.
20        (4) Each academic year, a grant shall be equal to the
21    cost of tuition and mandatory fees at an eligible
22    postsecondary institution or eligible postsecondary
23    program attended, less all other student aid. Student aid
24    shall be credited first to the student's tuition and
25    mandatory fees. Eligible students who receive student aid
26    exceeding their tuition cost and mandatory fees and



SB2055- 4 -LRB102 17175 CMG 22626 b

1    demonstrate additional need shall be eligible to receive
2    additional financial support, including, but not limited
3    to, funds for the purchase of required books and supplies,
4    lab fees, and activity fees. Each eligible postsecondary
5    institution or eligible postsecondary program must
6    annually report to the Commission its undergraduate
7    tuition rate for Illinois residents.
8        (5) A student is eligible for a grant and any grant
9    renewals until (i) he or she has earned a bachelor's
10    degree in ECE, (ii) he or she obtains a Professional
11    Educator License, or (iii) 8 years have passed from the
12    date of the student's initial receipt of a grant under
13    this program.
14        (6) After completion of or disenrolling from his or
15    her program of study, the student must reside and work
16    within this State in a child care or early childhood
17    education setting for the same period of time in which he
18    or she received funding under the program. If the student
19    fails to fulfill this requirement, the student must repay
20    the total grant amount awarded to him or her through
21    installments in accordance with rules adopted by the
22    Commission.
23    Exceptions to the qualification requirements under
24paragraphs (1) through (6) of this subsection must be made by
25the Commission for extenuating circumstances, as provided in
26rules adopted by the Commission, with advice from the Early



SB2055- 5 -LRB102 17175 CMG 22626 b

1Childhood Workforce Free College Advisory Committee created
2under subsection (e).
3    The Commission must adopt rules, in consultation with the
4Early Childhood Workforce Free College Advisory Committee
5created under subsection (e), on the distribution of grants
6under this subsection.
7    (c) In awarding grants under this Section, if, in any
8fiscal year, the amount appropriated for the grants is less
9than the amount determined necessary to cover the cost of
10attendance for all eligible applicants, the Commission must
11proportionately reduce the grants.
12    (d) The Early Childhood Workforce Free College Fund is
13created as a special fund in the State treasury. The Fund shall
14consist of money appropriated by the General Assembly and any
15gifts, bequests, or donations made to the Fund. All money in
16the Fund shall be used only by the Commission for the purposes
17of this Section.
18    (e) The Illinois Early Learning Council must establish the
19Early Childhood Workforce Free College Advisory Committee for
20the purpose of advising the Commission on all matters related
21to the Early Childhood Workforce Free College grant program.
22The Advisory Committee must be comprised of all of the
23following members, appointed by the Illinois Early Learning
25        (1) One representative each from the Governor's Office
26    of Early Childhood Development, the Illinois Community



SB2055- 6 -LRB102 17175 CMG 22626 b

1    College Board, and the Board of Higher Education, one of
2    whom shall serve as a chairperson, and the remaining
3    members shall be ex officio and nonvoting members.
4        (2) Eight members as follows:
5            (A) one member who is a preschool teacher at a
6        public school;
7            (B) one member who is a child care center
8        preschool teacher;
9            (C) one member who is a child care center infant or
10        toddler teacher;
11            (D) one member who is a child care center or early
12        learning teacher's assistant at a public school;
13            (E) one member who is a home child care provider
14        through the Department of Human Services' Child Care
15        Assistance Program;
16            (F) one member representing statewide trade or
17        labor unions;
18            (G) one member representing organizations engaging
19        in advocacy of the early childhood workforce; and
20            (H) one member who is an administrator of federal
21        Head Start grant program funds, State preschool funds,
22        or site-administered grants under the Child Care
23        Assistance Program.
24    Appointed members of the Advisory Committee, other than
25initial appointees, shall serve for a term of 3 years or until
26a replacement is named. All initial members shall be appointed



SB2055- 7 -LRB102 17175 CMG 22626 b

1no later than August 1, 2022. Of the initial appointees, 5
2members shall serve a term of 2 years and 6 members shall serve
3a term of 3 years. Any member appointed to fill a vacancy
4occurring prior to the expiration of the term for which his or
5her predecessor was appointed shall be appointed for the
6remainder of that term. The Advisory Committee shall meet at
7least once every 6 months and may meet more frequently at the
8call of the chairperson. A simple majority of those appointed
9shall constitute a quorum. The affirmative vote of a majority
10of those present and voting shall be necessary for Advisory
11Committee action. Members of the Advisory Committee shall
12receive no compensation for their services, but may be
13reimbursed for their expenses incurred in performing their
14duties from funds appropriated to the Commission for that
15purpose. Administrative and other support to the Advisory
16Committee shall be provided by the Illinois Early Learning
18    The Advisory Committee shall do all of the following:
19        (i) Study and make recommendations to the Commission
20    that are related to the implementation of the Early
21    Childhood Workforce Free College grant program.
22        (ii) Evaluate data received by the Commission to
23    ensure the program is at full utilization.
24        (iii) Address access issues to the program, including,
25    but not limited to, geographic, financial, cultural, and
26    workplace settings.



SB2055- 8 -LRB102 17175 CMG 22626 b

1    Section 99. Effective date. This Act takes effect upon
2becoming law.