PACIONE ZAYAS HB 4201CHICAGO – Students of public universities and colleges will soon have access to an on-campus point-person to help them find and apply for assistance programs thanks to a law sponsored in the Senate by State Senator Cristina Pacione-Zayas (D-Chicago).

“There are countless assistance programs offered by campuses, communities and the state for students to take advantage of,” Pacione-Zayas said. “Now, an on-campus benefits navigator can help students find and apply for programs for food or housing assistance, scholarships, and more.”

The new law requires each public university and community college in Illinois to designate a benefits navigator to assist students in identifying and applying for benefit programs and campus-wide and community assistance programs.

Additionally, the benefits navigator will participate in a statewide consortium with navigators from other universities and colleges to develop best practices and coordinate information.

“The benefits navigator will be a go-to person for students needing to traverse campus and community resources and will help to address resource insecurities like food and housing that many college students face,” said State Representative Maurice West, House sponsor of the legislation. “Having benefit navigators in our colleges and universities will ensure many students obtain the tools and resources they need to successfully complete college and make a better life for themselves and their families.”

Gov. JB Pritzker signed the measure into law Tuesday. It goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2023.

Category: Press Releases

PACIONE ZAYAS SB 3991CHICAGO – A law to help identify families in need of additional financial assistance for college savings accounts was signed Tuesday, thanks to the hard work of State Senator Cristina Pacione-Zayas.

“A big part of helping families afford college is making sure they know what financial assistance resources are available,” said Pacione-Zayas (D-Chicago). “This law will not only allow for additional deposits in a Children’s Savings Account for students from financially unstable households, it will also help us understand who is taking advantage of the program and allow us to target outreach to families who might not be aware of it.”

The Illinois Children’s Savings Account program will go into effect in 2023. Under the current program, applicable families will receive a seed deposit of $50. The new law, formerly Senate Bill 3991, allows the state treasurer’s office to supplement CSA’s for financially insecure households with additional funds.

Additionally, the law requires the treasurer’s office to collect more data on program participants to keep track of the social and geographic makeup of those who are utilizing these accounts. This will help further ensure equitable roll out of the program.

“As a parent of three children, I have spent years advocating for a statewide children’s savings account program. I didn’t go to college, but my son was lucky enough to receive a scholarship,” said Liliana Olayo, Co-President POWER-PAC IL and member of the Steering Committee of Financial Inclusion for All Illinois. “With a statewide CSA program that promotes equity, more families like mine will have hope for the future and an investment in their children’s potential early on.”

The law was signed Tuesday and goes into effect Jan. 1, 2023. 

Category: Press Releases

Bingo1CHICAGO – To get to know older residents in the districts they represent, State Senator Cristina Pacione-Zayas (D-Chicago) and State Representative Will Guzzardi (D-Chicago) visited two local residential buildings to enjoy lunch, meet residents and play bingo.

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Category: Press Releases

PACIONE ZAYAS HB 4243 SB 3032CHICAGO – During the spring legislative session, State Senator Cristina Pacione-Zayas was proud to support two pieces of legislation to help high school and college students access their transcripts without having to worry about unpaid debts.

“When a student works hard to make their grades, they deserve access to those records to assist them in applying for further education or jobs,” said Pacione-Zayas (D-Chicago). “High schoolers especially might struggle with paying fees if they come from a financially insecure household, but that shouldn’t prevent them from accessing their transcripts.”

Pacione-Zayas co-sponsored House Bill 4243, which prohibits public high schools from withholding a student’s grades, transcripts or diploma due to unpaid balances on the student’s account. The new law aims to grant students access to these documents and not rely on their or their family’s ability to pay balances.

Additionally, Pacione-Zayas supported Senate Bill 3032, which similarly prohibits universities from withholding students’ transcripts from employers as a means of debt collection. The measure also requires colleges to create a hardship policy to help students that have to withdraw for financial reasons to leave with as little debt as possible and prevents unpaid fees from being sent to a collection agency to be used against a student’s credit score.

“The rising cost of higher education is a barrier to many students,” Pacione-Zayas said. “Withholding transcripts containing a student’s hard-earned grades because of unpaid fees is an issue of equity, and these measures will combat that.”

Both measures have been signed into law. Both laws are now in effect.

Category: Press Releases

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