Thousands rally for higher ed. at Ala. Statehouse

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - A crowd estimated by organizers at about 2,500 held a rally Thursday at the Alabama Statehouse, calling for equitable funding of higher education.

Participants at the event Thursday also urged legislators to reach a fair solution to the crisis facing the state's prepaid college tuition program.

There was a festive atmosphere similar to a pep rally before a football game. Students and supporters of Alabama's 13 public four-year schools were led by bands and cheerleaders as they chanted slogans and urged legislators to give them at least 30 percent of the state's education dollars.

The universities currently receive about 28 percent of the education budget.

Rally participants encouraged lawmakers to guarantee funding of the prepaid tuition program, but were against a proposed cap on tuition increases for PACT participants.

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