A new policy set by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), the accreditation body for most two-and four-year institutions in Illinois, requires that by September 2017 high school teachers of dual-credit courses, along with all instructional college faculty, must have a master’s degree in the specialty they are teaching or at least 18 graduate-level credit hours within that specialty to teach dual-credit classes. This presents a concern in terms of access to early college courses, as there are clear disparities around the state in schools that employ teachers with the right credentials to teach these courses.

The research presented in this report is intended to lay the foundation for future exploration of incentives and potential revisions to existing loan forgiveness programs.