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Carolyn Kaster, File, Associated Press
FILE - In this Dec. 19, 2014 file photo, President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington. In the White House, President Barack Obama has preached economic opportunity and equal access to education as cornerstones of the legacy he says he wants to leave behind. But in the contest to host his presidential library, two public universities that serve needy communities fear the playing field has been tilted against them by a pair of elite, private schools with seemingly endless funding.

HONOLULU — In the White House, President Barack Obama has preached economic opportunity and equal access to education as cornerstones of the legacy he wants to leave behind.

But in the contest to host his presidential library, two public universities that serve needy communities fear the playing field has been tilted against them by a pair of elite, private schools with seemingly endless money.

As Obama prepares to announce his decision, the University of Hawaii and the University of Illinois at Chicago are struggling to show they can help pay for a project expected to cost close to half a billion dollars. The other two schools in the running, Columbia University and the University of Chicago, are both top 10 schools with a combined endowment of more than $15 billion.