Iowa regent universities to evenly split $12 million increase in state support

The University of Iowa would get a $4 million boost in fiscal 2020 state appropriations, per the regents’ proposal unveiled Tuesday.


Joseph Cress

Regent President Michael Richards listens to a presentation during a state Board of Regents meeting in the IMU Main Lounge on Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017.

Marissa Payne, Editor-in-Chief

The state Board of Regents will likely evenly share its $12 million boost in fiscal 2020 state appropriations among its three public universities, giving the University of Iowa and two other institutions $4 million each, per a proposal released Tuesday.

Gov. Kim Reynolds on May 13 signed off on the additional $12 million in support to the universities, leaving the regents to figure out how to divide the funding boost among the schools’ general funds. The regents will consider this proposal at their June 4-6 meeting at Iowa State University.

The increase in state support comes after the Iowa Legislature passed two consecutive years of midyear budget cuts to the regent universities, trimming their budgets by more than $30 million in those two fiscal years alone.

Though an increase in funding, the boost falls short of the original $18 million increase the regents requested to dedicate to resident undergraduate financial aid. According to regents’ documents, these funds “are to specifically support new strategic initiatives, meet needs caused by enrollment increases, meet the demand for new courses and services, fund new but unavoidable or mandated cost increases, and support any other initiatives important to the core functions of the universities.”

The regents have aimed to increase financial aid as tuition rises to compensate for dwindling state support. Iowa ranks last of the 50 states in the U.S. for state-awarded, need-based aid.

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

Students can expect the regents next week to approve a nearly 4 percent tuition increase for UI and ISU resident undergraduates in the 2019-20 academic year. The tuition hike falls within the range outlined by the regents’ new five-year tuition model, which factors in how much funding the state provides and accordingly lays out a range of baseline tuition increases students can anticipate.

UI President Bruce Harreld told The Daily Iowan on May 2 that tuition has to go up as a result of continued state disinvestment in higher education — a trend he said he doesn’t see reversing any time soon.

“… Whenever we get a year like this year where we get any money positively coming to us, we want to be ecstatic, and we should and say thank you,” he said. “On the other hand, the problem is still with us. This state is disinvesting, even this year in my book, from public higher education. It’s a shame.”

He noted that even though Reynolds in her January budget proposal backed the regents’ full request for an additional $18 million in funding, state lawmakers ultimately did not pass a bill in that amount.

“Even in a year when the governor asks for a lot for us, the Legislature slashes it and takes it down,” he said. “So I’m thankful for whatever they do, but I don’t think our answers are going to be in the state Legislature, I really don’t.”