University of Iowa leaders ask regents to consider effect of tuition hikes

The Iowa Board of Regents read tuition for the first time on Wednesday and was asked by University of Iowa to consider the effects the increases will have on students.


Lily Smith

Regents President Mike Richards listens during the state Board of Regents meeting at the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls on Friday, November 15, 2018.

Kelsey Harrell, News Reporter

After unveiling the potential tuition increases for the next academic year, student and administrative leaders commend the predictability of the multiyear tuition model but ask the state Board of Regents to consider the effects a tuition hike may have on students.

The regents read the proposed tuition rates for the 2019-20 academic year for the first time during a special meeting on Wednesday. They will take a final vote to set rates in June.

On Monday, the regents announced tuition for resident undergraduates may increase by 3.9 percent for the next academic year at the University of Iowa and Iowa State University, while nonresident undergraduates at the UI may see a 1 percent tuition increase.

The regents’ multi-year tuition model establishes a baseline range of tuition increases for five years, which UI Student Government President Noel Mills told the regents allows for students to budget for the coming academic years, but she said it also places a financial burden on them.

“A mere $300 would require around 30 hours of work, eight appointments donating plasma, or skipping around 60 meals,” Mills said. “These are very real consequences for my peers and for me.”

RELATED: UI, ISU students likely to see 3 percent tuition hikes for five years, regents decide

The students in the graduate and professional colleges also expect transparency and predictability in setting their tuition, and ask the regents to create predictability with graduate tuition increases as they have done for undergraduates, UI Graduate & Professional Student Government President Dexter Golinghorst said.

“As we continue to work with the Legislature and other sources of funding, it is paramount that the board and administrators consider the real world impacts that these increases have on our students,” Golinghorst said.

The decline in state funding and the inability to offset the decrease with tution revenue should be looked at as issues that are linked to each other, UI President Bruce Harreld said. The UI has proposed the public/private partnership to help close the gap in the strategic plan created by the decline in state appropriations, he said.

“We’re at a watershed moment where we are either going to find ways to fund our strategic plan so we can actually improve our activities and student success, research, engagement throughout the state, or we’re going to have to cap our aspirations based on a limited set of resources,” Harreld said.

RELATED: Iowa regents consider 4 percent tuition hike for UI, ISU resident undergraduates

One of the key missions of the regents is to keep Iowa’s public universities accessible and maintain the quality of the education they provide, Regent President Mike Richards said. The funding for the universities comes from tuition, state appropriations, and savings and reallocations, he said.

“We needed to wait until we had enough information about the state budget to set tuition for next year,” Richards said. “The proposed tuition rates that the board is considering hold to the principles of our tuition and total resources model.”

The regents spoke to parents and students at the universities before creating the multiyear tuition model and were told they wanted predictability and affordability, Regent Nancy Dunkel said.

“All of this was done with a firm hope to hold down tuition, and I’m comfortable with the process and our strategy of not having tuition discussions until after we see what the Legislature does and listening to those we serve,” Dunkel said. “… What I’m not comfortable with is the repercussions of the short-fall in our request from the Legislature.”

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