Editorial: Late regent tuition decision not healthy for UI students

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Editorial: Late regent tuition decision not healthy for UI students

The University of Iowa Campus looking west from Old Capitol and the Pentacrest.

The University of Iowa Campus looking west from Old Capitol and the Pentacrest.

Tom Jorgensen/University of iowa

The University of Iowa Campus looking west from Old Capitol and the Pentacrest.

Tom Jorgensen/University of iowa

Tom Jorgensen/University of iowa

The University of Iowa Campus looking west from Old Capitol and the Pentacrest.


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Last week, the state Board of Regents approved a tuition increase for students at the University of Iowa, Iowa State, and the University of Northern Iowa. The official increase was announced roughly one month before the start of the 2016-17 academic year.

While there has for some time been a plan to increase tuition for the upcoming academic year, the official announcement of the actual amount came just last week. That announcement came relatively late this year because the Legislature did not complete the state appropriation until late May, and the university budgets were not set until after that.

The tuition increases vary among the schools in the UI as well — with some increases being more damaging than others. In the Tippie College of Business, for example, supplemental increases of several hundred dollars were announced last week.

The Daily Iowan Editorial Board believes it is the duty of the regents and those responsible for appropriations to make announcements earlier in the year. According to the DI, “a shortfall in state appropriations prompted the regents to encourage all three regent schools — the UI, Iowa State, and the University of Northern Iowa — to explore further tuition increases.”

While tuition has remained relatively constant at the UI for some time for resident students, it is unfair of the state to allow such a shortfall to affect students in this way.

Let’s paint a hypothetical situation of students working 40-hour-per-week jobs during the summer in order to help pay for college education. Going into their senior years, these students saved a portion of their summer incomes to go on a much-needed vacation during winter break. But with one month left in the summer, they were informed via email that the regents and those in charge of school appropriations have made decisions leading to a tuition increase of several hundred dollars for the upcoming school year. Not having planned for this scenario, the students‘ vacations are no longer possible.

Of course this scenario is far-fetched and, no, it is not the end of the world if students can’t go on vacations. But the point is valid: Late announcements such as these seriously affect the roughly 70,000 students attending the three regent schools.

No students at any of these institutions want to see the quality of their education or the amenities the schools provide diminish. And while students will adamantly fight against increased tuition, sometimes it may be unavoidable. But that appropriations, and subsequently tuition hikes, were made this close to the beginning of the academic year is simply inexcusable. There are, of course, a variety of factors that affect when appropriations are made, and there are probably several parties to blame in this story.

But the fact remains, if tuition hikes are unavoidable (a topic still heavily debated), students and those helping them to pay for their college education deserve to be treated with more respect. Shorftalls after all, are not really the sort of thing that can be allowed in these scenarios.

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