RISE Act aims to retain students in the state of Illinois

ROCKFORD, Ill (WIFR)--- Illinois state representative Maurice West is one of the co-sponsors of the Retention of Illinois and Equity Act or RISE Act.

"The beauty of this bill is it helps to retain our students because a lot of them are unable to qualify for federal aid," says West.

Things like immigration status, gender identity and the amount of credit hours has stopped students from pursuing higher education due to lack of funding.

"With this piece if legislation we are able to help roughly around 3,500 students in the state to keep their aid and take off the cap," says West.

For undocumented students who are not eligible for any type of government funding, this bill would open the opportunity to apply for the MAP grant.

"It's hard for me sometimes because I see some of my friends getting paid for their books and it's hard for me. I feel like I have to work twice as hard," says Rock Valley College student Diego Lopez.

Lopez says this is huge for students, especially those looking to stay close to home.

But others feel this bill is taking a step in the wrong direction. In a Facebook post, Illinois state senator Dave Syverson says, "There is a waiting list of thousands of legal students who are not able to get grants."

It is estimated the new bill could create a demand for an additional $9 million annually for the program.