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Public Act 096-0133


 

Public Act 0133 96TH GENERAL ASSEMBLY



 


 
Public Act 096-0133
 
SB1624 Enrolled LRB096 10280 NHT 20450 b

    AN ACT concerning education.
 
    Be it enacted by the People of the State of Illinois,
represented in the General Assembly:
 
    Section 1. Short title. This Act may be cited as the Higher
Education Veterans Service Act.
 
    Section 5. Definitions. For purposes of this Act:
    "Task Force" means the Task Force on Service Member and
Veterans Education.
    "Public colleges and universities" means public community
colleges subject to the Public Community College Act, the
University of Illinois, Southern Illinois University, Chicago
State University, Eastern Illinois University, Governors State
University, Illinois State University, Northeastern Illinois
University, Northern Illinois University, and Western Illinois
University.
 
    Section 10. Findings.
    (a) Pursuant to Public Act 95-736, the General Assembly
created the Task Force on Service Member and Veterans Education
to examine the manner in which public colleges and universities
in the State of Illinois provided education to servicemen and
servicewomen as well as veterans of the armed forces of the
United States.
    The Task Force conducted hearings and filed its findings
with the General Assembly on September 16, 2008. Its report
urges the General Assembly to recognize the sacrifice of
American servicemen and women, and, in a small way, repay them
by chartering a concerted effort by State government, in
cooperation with our public institutions of higher learning, to
make its best efforts to take positive, quantifiable steps to
providing a superior learning environment for student veterans
and service members. The Task Force reviewed the unique needs
of veterans and military personnel, combined with the large
number of active duty personnel and military veterans seeking
higher education since the onset of the Global War on
Terrorism. The Task Force found that public universities and
community colleges in this State have varying levels of
assistance available for active duty service personnel and
veterans.
    (b) The Task Force has reported that veterans and active
duty personnel have difficulty in finding and receiving various
State and federal education-related benefits and services that
they may be eligible to receive, such as educational loans,
scholarships, grants, local employment opportunities, access
to medical care, a social network for support of student
veterans, and groups to help with the transition to becoming a
civilian after service in an active duty unit, because such
programs are administered by different arms of the government.
    (c) The Task Force found that the various public colleges
and universities in this State have a wide array of programs
and services available to veterans and active duty service
personnel, ranging from online educational opportunities,
admission and academic counseling, medical services, and
family housing information.
    (d) The Task Force also found that certain other higher
education institutions across the United States have adopted
programs and services that seek to better promote and
coordinate the assistance that is available for veterans and
active duty personnel.
 
    Section 15. Survey; coordinator; best practices report;
best efforts.
    (a) All public colleges and universities shall, within 60
days after the effective date of this Act, conduct a survey of
the services and programs that are provided for veterans,
active duty military personnel, and their families, at each of
their respective campuses. This survey shall enumerate and
fully describe the service or program that is available, the
number of veterans or active duty personnel using the service
or program, an estimated range for potential use within a
5-year and 10-year period, information on the location of the
service or program, and how its administrators may be
contacted. The survey shall indicate the manner or manners in
which a student veteran may avail himself or herself of the
program's services. This survey must be made available to all
veterans matriculating at the college or university in the form
of an orientation-related guidebook.
    Each public college and university shall make the survey
available on the homepage of all campus Internet links as soon
as practical after the completion of the survey. As soon as
possible after the completion of the survey, each public
college and university shall provide a copy of its survey to
the following:
        (1) the Board of Higher Education;
        (2) the Department of Veterans' Affairs;
        (3) the President and Minority Leader of the Senate and
    the Speaker and Minority Leader of the House of
    Representatives; and
        (4) the Governor.
    (b) Each public college and university shall, at its
discretion, (i) appoint, within 6 months after the effective
date of this Act, an existing employee or (ii) hire a new
employee to serve as a Coordinator of Veterans and Military
Personnel Student Services on each campus of the college or
university that has an onsite, daily, full-time student
headcount above 1,000 students.
    The Coordinator of Veterans and Military Personnel Student
Services shall be an ombudsperson serving the specific needs of
student veterans and military personnel and their families and
shall serve as an advocate before the administration of the
college or university for the needs of student veterans. The
college or university shall enable the Coordinator of Veterans
and Military Personnel Student Services to communicate
directly with the senior executive administration of the
college or university periodically. The college or university
shall retain unfettered discretion to determine the
organizational management structure of its institution.
    In addition to any responsibilities the college or
university may assign, the Coordinator of Veterans and Military
Personnel Student Services shall make its best efforts to
create a centralized source for student veterans and military
personnel to learn how to receive all benefit programs and
services for which they are eligible.
    Each college and university campus that is required to have
a Coordinator of Veterans and Military Personnel Student
Services shall regularly and conspicuously advertise the
office location, phone number, and Internet access to the
Coordinator of Veterans and Military Personnel Student
Services, along with a brief summary of the manner in which he
or she can assist student veterans. The advertisement shall
include, but is not necessarily limited to, the following:
        (1) advertisements on each campus' Internet home page;
    and
        (2) any promotional mailings for student application.
    The Coordinator of Veterans and Military Personnel Student
Services shall facilitate other campus offices with the
promotion of programs and services that are available.
    (c) Upon receipt of all of the surveys under subsection (a)
of this Section, the Board of Higher Education and the
Department of Veterans' Affairs shall conduct a joint review of
the surveys and post, on any Internet home page they may
operate, a link to each survey as posted on the Internet
website for the college or university. Upon receipt of all of
the surveys, the Office of the Governor, through its military
affairs advisors, shall similarly conduct a review of the
surveys and post the surveys on its Internet website. Following
its review of the surveys, the Office of the Governor shall
submit an evaluation report to each college and university
offering suggestions and insight on the conduct of student
veteran-related policies and programs.
    (d) The Board of Higher Education and the Department of
Veterans' Affairs may issue a best practices report to
highlight those programs and services that are most beneficial
to veterans and active duty military personnel. The report
shall contain a fiscal needs assessment in conjunction with any
program recommendations.
    (e) Each college and university campus that is required to
have a Coordinator of Veterans and Military Personnel Student
Services under subsection (b) of this Section shall make its
best efforts to create academic and social programs and
services for veterans and active duty military personnel that
will provide reasonable opportunities for academic performance
and success.
    Each public college and university shall make its best
efforts to determine how its online educational curricula can
be expanded or altered to serve the needs of student veterans
and currently-deployed military, including a determination of
whether and to what extent the public colleges and universities
can share existing technologies to improve the online curricula
of peer institutions, provided such efforts are both
practically and economically feasible.
 
    Section 20. Fiscal impact and reporting. Beginning on
September 1 of the year following the effective date of this
Act and each subsequent September 1, each college and
university that is required to have a Coordinator of Veterans
and Military Personnel Student Services under subsection (b) of
Section 20 of this Act shall report to the Board of Higher
Education on the fiscal impact of the programs and services
related to the requirements of this Act.
    The Board of Higher Education shall compile the information
and, within 60 days after receipt of such information, issue a
report reflecting the information for each institution
required to report under this Section. The report must be filed
with the Governor, the Governor's Office of Management and
Budget, the Director of Veterans' Affairs, the Speaker of the
House of Representatives, the President of the Senate, the
Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, and the
Minority Leader of the Senate.
 
    Section 99. Effective date. This Act takes effect upon
becoming law.

Effective Date: 8/7/2009