University of Iowa student leaders call for affordable tuition in higher education

The state Board of Regents will make a final action on July 28 regarding tuition for the 2021-2022 academic year. Regents President Mike Richards said the regents try to keep the cost of tuition as low as possible while maintaining quality education.


Jerod Ringwald

Undergraduate Student Government President Regan Smock speaks to the state Board of Regents on June 24.

Sabine Martin, News Editor

The University of Iowa’s student body leaders called for the state Board of Regents to advocate for “systemic changes” toward affordable higher education in Iowa at a regents meeting on Thursday.

Undergraduate Student Government President Regan Smock told the regents that the Iowa Legislature cannot continue to undervalue the necessity of higher education.

“We must invest in students,” Smock said. “When we invest in higher education, we invest in young people who will be the next generation in the state.”

For the 2021-22 academic year, the regents proposed a $283 tuition increase for undergraduate students and a $353 increase for graduate students at the UI, as previously reported by The Daily Iowan

The regents implemented a tuition freeze for the fall and spring semesters, pausing the regents’ five-year tuition increase model. The five-year tuition model was approved by the regents in 2019, allowing an annual 3 to 5 percent tuition increase at the UI and Iowa State University.

Regents President Mike Richards told the regents that no action was required during Thursday’s meeting. The regents will make a final action on July 28 regarding tuition for the 2021-2022 academic year.

“The regents really do try to keep the cost to the students as low as we can and still keep the quality up there where it belongs,” Richards said.

Smock said the tuition freeze over the last year was not a “win” for students in Iowa.

“A freeze in tuition does not help students in the long run without a corresponding increase in state funding to make up for funds lost during the global pandemic,” Smock said. “Over the last year, students continued to pay thousands of dollars, most having no choice but to take out loans, leaving them crushed by debt.”

RELATED: State Board of Regents propose $283 tuition increase for UI undergrads after year-long pause

Graduate Student Government Vice President Walt Wang told the regents that GPSG hopes to continue to work with the regents to access higher education in Iowa.

“Affordable education is no longer considered a necessity by the state,” Wang said.

The Legislature approved an $8 million cut in fiscal 2021 funding for the regent-governed universities, as previously reported by the DI.

ISU Undergraduate Student Government President Julia Campbell asked the regents for the smallest tuition increase possible and University of Northern Iowa Undergraduate Student Government Vice President Alisanne Struck said she is concerned about the long-term cost of higher education for students.

Smock said students received a lower quality education after funding cuts from the Legislature, leaving universities no choice to terminate faculty positions and decrease resources.

“We need systemic changes in our funding model to make the cost of attendance affordable and possible for each and every young person in our state who chooses to pursue higher education,” Smock said.

Students in Iowa deserve better, Smock said. She added that the Legislature needs to acknowledge the regent-governed universities as an economic powerhouse.

“The burden of financing Iowa’s colleges and universities should not be placed squarely on the shoulders of young people hoping for a better future,” Smock said. “This must become a priority for the state of Iowa.”