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Advanced placement measure aims to make college more affordable

From Illinois Business Journal news services

Earning a college degree in Illinois could become cheaper and faster, say sponsors of a House bill passed unanimously by the Illinois Senate on Friday.

HB 3428 requires all Illinois public community colleges and universities to grant credit for a minimum score of 3 on 34 advanced placement course examinations. Currently, the minimum score required for credit ranges from 2 to 5, varying from test to test, institution to institution, and campus to campus.

“Students and their parents need clarity and consistency in the college-application process,” said the bill’s chief sponsor, Sen. Pat McGuire, D-Joliet. “Students who challenge themselves with college-level courses while in high school and meet AP’s national-exam standard of 3 deserve to get a jump on satisfying college degree requirements and save their families money in the process.”

Advanced placement classes are offered for free at public high schools. The end-of-year AP national examination costs $91. The average credit hour at an Illinois university costs more than $400.

Fourteen other states, including California, Florida, Ohio and Illinois neighbors Wisconsin, Indiana, and Kentucky, already have adopted this policy. Studies show that students who earn college credit with an AP exam score of 3 or higher do well in subsequent college courses, take more courses in their major, and are more likely to graduate within four years.

“Too many of Illinois’ best and brightest have been matriculating to Purdue, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Ohio State, and other out-of-state universities because those schools honor AP exam scores of 3,” McGuire said. “This bill will make Illinois universities more attractive and affordable to ambitious, hard-working students. That builds Illinois’ talent base and helps our state progress and prosper.”

The bill now goes to the Illinois House for concurrence. Should HB 3428 reach the governor’s desk and be signed into law, the new AP acceptance policy will go into effect for the 2016-2017 academic year.



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