State Representative Deanne Mazzochi (R-Elmhurst) this week secured the Governor’s signature on legislation (HB 796) that seeks to expand access by top students in the state to University of Illinois degree programs.
During her first legislative term, Rep. Mazzochi cosponsored legislation to require Illinois public universities to provide guaranteed admission slots to the top 10% of Illinois high school graduates. At the time, the University of Illinois insisted that it be carved out of the legislation.
This term, Rep. Mazzochi continued the fight to expand University of Illinois access, pushing for expanded enrollment for top Illinois high school and community college students. “Many parents and students in the district have shared their concerns with me that many of our students at the top of their class; high grades; and with top-tier test scores still are being locked out of the University of Illinois. U of I admission policies aren’t just impacting suburban students; it is systemic throughout the state,” Rep. Mazzochi explained. She reiterated that “our flagship university should be prioritizing access to Illinois residents for coveted seats, rather than out of state or foreign students.”
University of Illinois officials initially stated their reluctance to participate in the top 10% admission program stemmed from variability across high schools when it came to grading and advanced coursework. Rep. Mazzochi worked with the University on the legislation to address their concerns, creating a pilot program pathway with minimum grade level and courses. “The academic standards at Illinois universities will not fall just because they accept more Illinois students.” Rep. Mazzochi said. “By keeping more of Illinois’ best and brightest in Illinois, this program will help make these institutions and our state more healthy and robust.”
House Bill 796 passed unanimously from both the House and Senate. Governor J.B. Pritzker signed it into law on Friday, July 30th. It goes into effect January 1, 2022.
Rep. Mazzochi reiterated that “the legislature needs more state policies and laws like this that will help encourage the next generation to stay in Illinois, not leave.”