Dave Dahl -- Illinois Radio Network

For Trisha Rodriquez of Belvidere, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is her “dream school.”

“It's such a huge school, and there are so many opportunities that I don't really get where I'm from,” said the first-generation college student, a sophomore majoring in economics and political science, “to work for all these awesome organizations and be part of student government is what the appeal was for me.

State senators who brought Rodriquez to a news conference at the Capitol say students like Rodriquez could be in for a rude awakening, unless the legislature renews the money for Monetary Award Program, which helps lower-income college students attend school.

“It's the end of the semester,” said State Sen. Scott Bennett (D-Champaign), “and, as students are packing their bags to go home for the winter break, they need some commitment. They need to know whether they can afford to come back in the next semester.”

The governor, said another senator, ought to get behind MAP. “I think making sure students have access to higher education is an economic development issue,” said State Sen. Steve Stadelman (D-Caledonia). “In the Rockford area, we have a below average number of adults who have college degrees. That makes us less competitive.”

Gov. Bruce Rauner has proposed a 31 percent cut in money to public universities and has said the money they do get is squandered on fat-cat administrators.

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