Lawmakers rallied around UI President Tim Killeen Thursday to show support for keeping more students in-state for college.
Nearly half of Illinois' high school students pack their bags to head out of state.
The university is on its way to getting help keeping them here.
The UI wants to provide $170 million in financial aid funding to students seeking higher education. They hope this will help them stay competitive with out-of-state universities.
Like never before, high school students are leaving Illinois for higher education.
"This is the first time in our state's history where we have guidance counselors encouraging students to go out of state."
In 2015, 45% of high school students went out-of-state for college; a drastic jump from the 29% which left in 2009.
"It's kind of sad knowing that we got a great university here and so many people are opting to leave just because they're unsure of the condition the state's going to be in when they graduate."
The state's budget crisis is why lawmakers and UI leaders ant more funding to keep students from fleeing.
"We want to look at improving a world class education for as many qualified and talented Illinois' native students as we can."
Killeen was at the Capitol Thursday trying to get support for his $170 million funding plan.
Senator Scott Bennett (D) says the state's support is key.
"The best resources our state has is our people and, if the whole generation, or a lot of the generations of the best minds go out-of-state, they may never come back."
The new funds would be accessible through scholarships and grants and would be separate from MAP Grant funds.
This story appeared on WCIA and illinoishomepage.net on March 16, 2017.
Watch the story online.