UPDATE 4/12/19: HB 217 failed to pass out of the Illinois House. We look forward to continuing to work towards ensuring the question regarding an applicant’s criminal record on college applications is removed.
Currently in Illinois, people with criminal records are being deterred from getting an education. The majority of colleges ask about an applicant’s criminal record. But asking this question can have a chilling effect – often discouraging those individuals from completing the application.
Evidence shows that asking about a criminal record at admission does nothing to protect public safety but seeing the “box” on school applications prevents individuals from applying to institutions of higher education. With approximately 45% of Illinois adults having a criminal record, it is critical that this barrier to education be addressed.
HB 217 will “ban the box” in the higher education admissions process and prevents colleges and universities from asking about or considering a person’s criminal record for purposes of admission. HB 217 will not prohibit a college or university to consider a person’s criminal record after admission, including for offering campus housing, participating in campus activities, or to provide career counseling. In 2018, the common application removed questions about an applicant’s criminal history and Illinois should follow suit.
Higher education dramatically reduces recidivism and helps individuals build financially stable futures. HB 217 will increase educational opportunities and provide a fairer shot at a better life for thousands of Illinoisans.