Illinois General Assembly - Full Text of Public Act 098-0792
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Public Act 098-0792





Public Act 098-0792
SB3441 EnrolledLRB098 19909 OMW 55128 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 Distance Learning Act.
    Section 5. Legislative declaration of public policy. In
recent years, distance education offered by institutions of
higher learning has been increasing, with such distance
education being offered on an interstate basis by many
institutions of higher learning. Often, students participate
in such education in states where the institution of higher
learning maintains no actual physical presence. Both the
regulation and the availability of institutions of higher
learning to participate in distance learning have been hampered
by multi-jurisdictional differences between the states and
uneven regulation among the states for the same programs.
Various multi-state compacts have addressed this problem by
creating a voluntary system of interstate reciprocity for
institutions of higher learning to streamline authorization
and regulations for institutions of higher learning that
voluntarily agree to participate in a reciprocity program. The
provision of such distance education is declared to affect the
public safety and welfare and to be subject to regulation and
control in the public interest. It is further the public policy
of this State that such a program of reciprocity be made
available on a voluntary basis to participating institutions of
higher learning and that any other institutions of higher
learning that choose not to participate continue to be
regulated under current laws and rules that govern distance
    Section 10. Definitions. In this Act:
    "Board" means the Board of Higher Education.
    "Distance learning" means instruction offered by any means
where the student and faculty member are in separate physical
locations. It includes, but is not limited to, online,
interactive video or correspondence courses or programs.
    "Home state" means the state that regulates a participating
institution and its distance learning programs. A state cannot
be the "home state" unless the institution of higher learning
either has a physical presence in that state or holds its
principal institutional accreditation in that state.
    "Participation agreement" means the agreement that each
participating institution is required to sign and abide by in
order to take advantage of the reciprocity agreement.
    "Participating institution" means any institution of
higher learning that offers an associate's degree or higher, in
whole or in part, through distance learning and has voluntarily
or willingly entered into a participation agreement to be
regulated by a participating home state with respect to
institutional and program approval, complaints, and
institutional and program reviews.
    "Physical presence" means on-going occupation of a
physical location for instructional purposes or maintenance of
an administrative office to facilitate instruction.
    "State" means any state, commonwealth, district, or
territory of the United States that is a participant in good
standing in a state authorization reciprocity agreement.
    "State authorization reciprocity agreement" or
"reciprocity agreement" means a voluntary agreement that
establishes reciprocity between willing states for approval of
postsecondary educational services delivered by distance
learning beyond state boundaries.
    Section 15. Authorization. The Board is authorized to
participate in a state authorization reciprocity agreement on
behalf of this State. The Board shall be the lead agency in
coordinating interstate reciprocity for distance learning for
participating institutions in this State.
    Section 20. Illinois as the home state. If this State has
been designated as the home state for a participating
institution, then the Board shall approve, investigate,
authorize, monitor, and establish common standards,
reauthorize, establish, and investigate complaints, and attend
to other administrative matters involving distance learning,
including complaints from students and others in this State and
from other states where the participating institutions are
offering distance learning under a reciprocity agreement.
    Section 25. Illinois as the reciprocal state. If another
state has been designated as the home state, a participating
institution has received required approval, the participating
institution has no physical presence in this State, and the
participating institution does not hold its principal
institutional accreditation in this State, then the Board shall
allow such participating institution to offer distance
learning in this State under a participation agreement
authorized by this Act. The Board may not charge a fee for
granting such reciprocal distance learning approval.
    However, if the participating institution has another home
state, but also has a physical presence in this State or has
its principal institutional accreditation in this State, the
Board may regulate the institution of higher learning and its
distance learning programs in this State and is not bound by
the reciprocity agreement.
    Section 30. Application of the Act. This Act applies only
to distance learning programs and does not affect other
approvals of institutions of higher learning or programs
required under the laws of this State, nor does it affect any
exemptions of institutions of higher learning or programs
granted by the laws of this State. However, except as required
in Section 25 of this Act, any participating institution that
remains eligible and in good standing under this Act is not
required to obtain any other approval for distance learning
required by State law, unless the institution of higher
learning withdraws and is removed from this reciprocity
    Nothing in this Act shall be construed to affect the
authority of the Attorney General to enforce the Consumer Fraud
and Deceptive Business Practices Act and the federal Consumer
Financial Protection Act of 2010, as authorized by 12 U.S.C.
    Section 35. Fees. Fees to cover the cost of administration
and enforcement of this Act shall be set by the Board by rule.
    Section 40. Distance Learning Fund. The Distance Learning
Fund is created as a special fund in the State treasury. All
fees collected for the administration and enforcement of this
Act shall be deposited into the Fund. All money in the Fund
shall be used, subject to appropriation, by the Board to
supplement support for the administration and enforcement of
this Act and may not be used for any other purpose.
    Section 45. Student refund policy. The Board, by rule,
shall establish minimum standards for a fair and equitable
policy that governs refunds for students, which must be
required for all participating institutions subject to this
    Section 50. Equitable treatment of students. Students who
are enrolled in institutions of higher learning governed by
this Act, either because they are residents of the home state
or because they are residents of participating reciprocal
states, and who receive services from the Board under this Act
are entitled to the same remedies, services, and redress under
this Act, regardless of their state of residency.
    Section 90. Rules. The Board shall adopt rules for the
execution of the powers and duties delegated to it by this Act,
including, but not limited to, minimum standards for
institutions of higher learning.
    Section 500. The State Finance Act is amended by adding
Section 5.855 as follows:
    (30 ILCS 105/5.855 new)
    Sec. 5.855. The Distance Learning Fund.

Effective Date: 1/1/2015