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August 11, 2005


SPRINGFIELD - Legislation designed to help students plan their academic futures, from their first college course through their requirements for a bachelor's degree, has been signed into law by Governor Rod Blagojevich.

"This is a milestone achievement for students, and we applaud Governor Blagojevich for his endorsement of House Bill 2515," Thomas R. Lamont, Executive Director of the Illinois Board of Higher Education, said. "This bill will create a statewide, up-to-date, comprehensive catalog of academic programs and requirements that shows students what courses will transfer and how they'll count toward a bachelor's degree."

The legislation, sponsored by Representative Aaron Schock of Peoria and Senator Susan Garrett of Lake Forest, directs the Board of Higher Education to establish a web-based information network that, when fully implemented, will allow students to plan an entire academic course of study from a community college to a bachelor's degree at a senior institution. The system - known as CAS, for Course Applicability System - will help students avoid taking courses that won't transfer for credit or won't count toward a degree at a four-year college or university.

More than 46,000 students transferred from one school to another in fall 2004, predominantly from community colleges to public or private four-year institutions.

When fully operational, the CAS network will link students to an inventory of an institution's academic degree programs and requirements, its course listings, guides to show course equivalencies between institutions, degree-specific planning guides to assist in constructing a course of study, and student services such as financial aid. Most usefully, CAS planning guides are individualized, letting students develop plans that will best take advantage of the coursework they have completed, as well as conduct "what-if?" experiments to see how potential coursework would apply toward different degrees and at different senior institutions.

Presently, two universities - Northern Illinois University and the University of Illinois at Chicago - are fully functional with CAS, with the U. of I.'s Urbana-Champaign campus close to having all CAS functions in place. Other public universities are at various stages of developing CAS operations. All community colleges have loaded course offerings into the CAS system so their students can determine which courses will transfer and count toward a bachelor's degree. The College of DuPage, which experiences heavy transfer traffic in as well as out, will be implementing CAS as a receiving institution this year. In addition, the system is being expanded to include several large private institutions this year.

Stuart I. Fagan, President of Governors State University, also hailed approval of HB2515. "Students need accurate data to make informed decisions concerning their academic future. This legislation will be an invaluable tool for students in making wise choices that will enable them to progress through their academic studies in an efficient and economical way."

John Peters, President of Northern Illinois University, also praised the new law. "As the Midwest's number one recipient of community college transfer students, NIU strongly supports the new course-transfer system," said Peters. "Although future state funding will be necessary to make CAS a statewide system, passage of this bill is a great step in that direction."


Don Sevener



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