SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA) – Dozens rallied in Chicago Wednesday calling on lawmakers to renew a scholarship program.

“The power and potential of the tax credit scholarship can’t be summarized in rhetoric or legislation,” Shaka Rawls, the principal of Leo Catholic High School, said in a press conference. “The power and potential resides in the young people it impacts.”

It’s called the Invest in Kids Scholarship Tax Credit program. People can donate money to nonprofits and get a 75% income tax credit. Those dollars then go towards scholarships to help lower income students afford the cost of private school.

“We like to have this school open to anybody, regardless of ability to pay,” William Moredock, the president of Sacred Heart-Griffin High School, said. “This is one way that can happen.”

However, the program was axed from this year’s budget leaving it set to expire by the end of this year.

It’s left many concerned about the future of the program, which passed in 2017, including Central Illinois schools like Sacred-Heart Griffin.

“It would be difficult for those students to find the type of school that really meets their educational needs and for the families who have a certain type of school they want to see for their kids. I just see it as being a detriment to our whole community,” Moredock said.

In Illinois, about 41,000 students have been awarded a scholarship since the program began. Now about 9,500 students are at risk of losing their current scholarships.

At Sacred Heart-Griffin, Moredock said 21 students at the school benefit from the program while 23 are on the waiting list, and if lawmakers don’t take action to renew the program, he said they could see fewer students enrolled because of tuition concerns.

“There are many, many students who have been funded by this program who have been able to attend our schools, and if that funding isn’t re-upped in the future, they may have to seek other schools, and that would be a very difficult thing for students and families in our community,” Moredock said.

Democrats have said they would have time to revisit the issue. 

Meanwhile, House Republicans introduced legislation in June to make the program permanent. Republicans in the Senate are also pushing for that and want to make that happen when lawmakers return in October for veto session.