President Wilson talks tuition, state funding fluctuations

The state Board of Regents will finalize tuition increases for the 2021-22 academic year on July 28. University of Iowa President Wilson said the state Board of Regents does not raise tuition lightly.


Jerod Ringwald

University of Iowa President Barbara Wilson walks on campus July 20.

Sabine Martin, News Editor

At an upcoming meeting July 28, the state Board of Regents will finalize tuition rates for the 2021-22 academic year.

University of Iowa President Barbara Wilson said during a media availability on Tuesday that the role of an institution like the UI is critical in the state, but if there isn’t state funding, the university is going to “get stuck” and raise tuition.

During the 2022 fiscal year, the regents requested an increase of $18 million from the general assembly and restoration of an $8 million cut from 2021, but the Iowa Legislature has leveled state funding, as previously reported by The Daily Iowan.  

“The regents don’t agree to raise tuition lightly,” Wilson said. “They think very carefully about these issues as do we. Affordability is crucial for all of us… When you think about higher ed, and the cost that we face, if the state isn’t going to increase our budget, we don’t have very many other places to support the university.”

In response to a freeze in state’s support, the recent proposal said the tuition rates for the 2021-22 academic year are being raised.

“Regent institutions need adequate support from all sources while promoting the effective use of resources to meet institutional missions and to maintain the quality of education Iowans expect,” the regents proposal document states.

Wilson said the UI requires funding for annual university “true costs”. She said the UI’s goal is to allow tuition increases when needed, but to keep them very manageable and closely connected to inflation or from state funding.

“I think that the regents have done a lot of careful analysis with us on costs and COVID hit all universities pretty hard,” Wilson said.

Resident and non-resident undergraduate UI students will see a $283 increase in the proposal for tuition and a $53.50 increase in mandatory fees, as previously reported by the DI. Graduate student base tuition will increase by $353 and mandatory fees by $46.50.

Iowa State is proposing a $318 increase of base tuition and mandatory fees for in-state students and a $942 increase for out-of-state students. The University of Northern Iowa is proposing a $115 increase of base tuition and mandatory fees for in-state students, and a $273 increase for out-of-state students.

In addition to base tuition increases, the UI and ISU are requesting different tuition rates for higher-cost undergraduate and graduate programs.

The UI is requesting an additional supplement of $1,000 for third and fourth-year students in Computer Science and Informatics programs. The College of Nursing is also requesting a tuition supplement of $59 for undergraduate nursing students.

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Wilson said the tuition raise does not represent very much of an increase for each student in relation to inflation.

She said the UI is backfilling with financial aid in every place that they can.

“Our goal is to be as affordable as possible at the University of Iowa. I can tell you that the tuition here in the state is among the lowest in the Big Ten,” Wilson said. “…We’ll be carefully looking at affordability, but also recognizing that this is a really reasonably priced place to go to school, even though it feels expensive to lots of families.”

One of her jobs as the UI president, Wilson said, is to meet with Iowa lawmakers and advocate on behalf of the UI’s impact on the state and workforce.

“I think [legislators] are eager to learn about the university,” Wilson said. “I will be taking students with me wherever I can because people in districts like to meet with students that reside in their districts.”

Wilson said she had a conversation with Gov. Kim Reynolds, who thanked Wilson for the UI’s role during COVID-19.

“We both agreed we want to be partners going forward,” Wilson said.

Natalie Dunlap contributed to this report.