A group of Illinois State University students are rallying college students across the state to head to Springfield and protest proposed higher education budget cuts.

Kyle Kolling and Katherine Apperson, two senior theater education majors, are organizing the STEP on Springfield Rally, set for 2 p.m., Friday, April 17, in the Rotunda of the Illinois State Capitol Building in Springfield.

Kolling and Apperson started the student committee Stand Together for Education Progress (STEP) to allow students to make their voices heard.

The rally is open to students from all state universities. Groups and individuals from Illinois State planning to attend should meet by noon at the circle drive between Westhoff Theatre and the School Street Parking Garage off Beaufort Street. Though the grassroots effort will not provide transportation, those looking for carpooling can contact SteponSpringfield@gmail.com .

 “We believe education is a right for all, and not just the privileged few who can afford it,” said Apperson, who added college students will suffer most if proposed cuts pass.

“Any cut will impact students – whether it is the loss of good faculty, the loss of student jobs or the loss of financial aid grants,” she said. “And a cut of 31 percent will mean taking away opportunities for students to pay for college, and have the best college experience. That would cripple our education system, and cause future students to look at other states for school.”

Kolling agreed that students will seek out more affordable options, leading to the hemorrhaging of potential for the state. “A big majority of those who attend college in Illinois, stay in Illinois and put down roots,” he said. “Without a good higher education system, we would start a trend of shipping an entire generation of our young, educated people off to other states.”

The STEP committee, composed of Illinois State students, hopes students from all state campuses will join in the rally and sign the petition. “This isn’t just about our school, it is about Illinois,” said Kolling. “I love Illinois, I want to stay in Illinois and teach. I do not want to leave. But if something like this passes, it would be tough to stay in a state that thinks of higher education as something only for the rich.”

More information on the STEP on Springfield rally is available on the group’s Facebook page under March on Springfield with S.T.E.P.