Staff and students testified at a hearing hosted by the Chicago City Council's committees on finance and education.
The committees are considering a resolution that would urge the state to pay nearly $500 million in debt owed to the university.
UIC is asking Chicago aldermen to help persuade Governor Pat Quinn to release the money.
"We are not oblivious to this economic downturn. We are good citizens," said Maria de los Angeles Torres, the university's director of Latin American studies. "We have cut back - my college alone has gone from about 600 full-time faculty to 300 and a little bit. There are critical new programs that we have not been able to launch."
With 26,000 students, UIC is Chicago's largest university.