Students from DePaul University and Columbia College boarded buses heading to Springfield to protest funding cuts to the Monetary Award Program, also known as MAP.
Maybe these students should be in government.
Lawmakers have been going back and forth for years about how to make college more affordable, but in just 24 hours, students from Columbia College produced a video with original music to protest and personify Illinois' cuts to the Monetary Award Program.
"I wonder what I could be. I wonder what I could do. If I had the chance to make my dreams come true," sings 13-year-old Teah Handcox, who also appears in the video.
The video shows Handcox walking around various departments of the campus as other students are shown studying, collaborating, and working in performing arts. It's meant to illustrate her seeing all the things that would be available to her on campus if she had the support to be a student.
"It's all about the MAP grant. Without the MAP grant, she and other students will not be able to go to college. They depend on that grant," said Dimitri Moore, one of the co-producers of the video.
Moore said the song and lyrics, composed by staff member Steve Hadley, came together over the last few weeks, but always had the MAP protest in mind.
"He worked with a co-producer who was a student to pull it together, so (it was) staff and student involvement in the creation of the song," Moore said. The music was performed by Columbia students.
The song was played Monday for two college officials who asked it to be put to video. Storyboarding, shooting and editing was done all day Tuesday and the video was posted to the Internet at about 3 p.m. Wednesday, Moore said.
Moore is a student and staff member at Columbia and called upon Dave Feiferis, his partner at their film production company, NLP Films, to pull off the quick turnaround.
"It was just a good amount of timing that it was finished and played and enjoyed with the timeline that we had to get it done for the protest, because the protest had been growing for a little while," Moore said.
The video was played early Thursday morning outside the Columbia campus before a couple hundred students boarded buses to Springfield.
Students Rally in Springfield
Students from all over the state, including those from DePaul University, Northeastern Illinois University, Chicago State, UIC and Loyola traveled to Springfield Thursday to rally and talk to lawmakers about what the MAP cuts mean to them.
Columbia Sophomore Sirseal Gipson said she is really troubled by the cuts and fears her education is at risk.
"I am the first woman in my family to go to college, its really important to me," she said. "I may not be allowed to come back, so it's real devastating."
Senior Colby Markwell said he fears he won't be able to graduate next spring.
"I'm just frustrated. Education is the most important thing in life," he said.
At DePaul, students were given breakfast and T-shirts that read, "Save MAP, Give Us Our Future Back."
Some of those taking part in the rally are former grant recipients who want to show their support.
The rally is scheduled to begin on the steps of the Capitol Building. Some students will meet with state legislators in smaller groups throughout the afternoon.
The Illinois General Assembly in July cut the MAP budget by half, to roughly $200 million, in an effort to close the state's budget gap. It effectively eliminated the spring semester of funding from the budget, and more than 100,000 students statewide depends on those grants to help pay for college.
On Wednesday, legislators said they'd reached an agreement to appropriate an extra $200 million to the program, but said they hadn't figured out how to pay for it.