The Daily Iowan

Regents delay tuition decision

EMILY BUSSE

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Members of the UI and Iowa City communities will have to wait another two months for the decision on any increases in tuition next year.

Originally scheduled for next week’s state Board of Regents meeting, the regents deferred the vote on a tuition hike as well as a decision on relocating Hancher to the board’s Feb. 4 meeting, Regent President David Miles said.

The extra eight weeks will provide the regents with a better understanding of the state’s economic situation and will hopefully result in a more informed tuition decision, he said.

“We appreciate [students’] frustration and that they’re anxious … they should understand that we’re simply trying to get more clarity about the situation,” Miles said in an interview on Tuesday. “By waiting, it improves our ability to get the number right the first time.”

With the delay, regents will be able to analyze the latest state budget projections from the Revenue Estimating Conference’s meeting on Dec. 11. The conference meets quarterly and “starts the budget process for the next fiscal year,” said Joel Lunde, the senior fiscal policy analyst for the Iowa Department of Management.

“A lot of our [decisions] are going to hinge on the revenue the [conference] comes out with,” said Regent Robert Downer. “It doesn’t make sense for us to try to make decisions that are not based on full and accurate information.”

Downer said he is not “terribly optimistic” about what the projection will be.

Rep. David Jacoby, D-Coralville, said despite “guarded optimism,” he expects the state budget could be $1 billion short of the little over $6 billion Iowa usually operates on.

The more time regents will have to analyze the numbers, the more accurate their decision will be, Jacoby said.

“We don’t want to charge students too much — which we’re kind of arguably doing — and there’s nothing worse than doing an increase and three months later doing another increase,” he said.

Regents were unsure how much state budget estimates could affect a tuition hike.

For UI sophomore Kylie Day, the delayed decision halts the budget planning she’s worked on since last July in order to get an apartment next year.

“I don’t have any resource to plan with. I’m just going to have to guess for now,” Day said. “[The regents] want less time for people to have to be here complaining.”

Regent Greta Johnson, an Iowa State University junior, said she hopes other students will keep the benefits of the delay in mind.

“I can see the point that you’re going to be wanting to plan ahead as far as your finances, but it’s more beneficial to wait a little bit longer, and hopefully, the news will be good news,” she said.

Miles said the regents will keep the students’ need for answers in mind as they go forward.

In addition to tuition, the regents postponed a decision on the relocation and rebuilding of the Hancher/Voxman/Clapp complex to their February meeting.

Miles said officials delayed the vote because the face-to-face format of the February meeting is more conducive to a relocation discussion than the telephonic setup next week.

The rescheduling did not surprise Downer.

“Most of us have felt that we needed a meeting where we were going to see visuals that we could react to,” he said, adding that PowerPoints, maps, and renderings will aid the regents’ discussion.

Charles Swanson, the executive director of Hancher, said he supports the rescheduling and noted that an in-person meeting is highly valuable.

“This is such a major decision as we look to the future effect Hancher makes in our community, to the regents, and to the state, that we have to take this very seriously,” he said. “It totally makes sense to have everybody in one place.”

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