University of Iowa tuition to rise

Board will consider more increases if state support lags

The Old Capitol building is shown in Iowa City on Monday, March 30, 2015. (Adam Wesley/The Gazette)
The Old Capitol building is shown in Iowa City on Monday, March 30, 2015. (Adam Wesley/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — Undergraduate resident students at the University of Iowa will see a 3 percent bump in tuition next school year after the Board of Regents on Wednesday approved the increase.

Undergraduate students from Iowa who attend Iowa State University and University of Northern Iowa are not expected to see an increase next year because the board previously approved upping tuition at those institutions sooner — in the upcoming spring semester.

The board agreed to delay the 3 percent hike at UI following an appeal from the student body president, who cited budgetary concerns among her peers.

The Board of Regents proposed the resident undergraduate tuition increases after lawmakers, late in the last legislative session, failed to approve its funding request. Instead of a 4.3 percent increase in state appropriations, equal to $21.7 million, the 2015 General Assembly passed a 1.26 percent increase, equal to about $6.5 million.

And Board of Regents President Bruce Rastetter on Wednesday said the board again could be revisiting the tuition rates it just approved if state appropriations fall short of the board’s 2016 requests.

The board in September approved its 2016 Legislative requests — including a 4 percent increase in general university operating support.

“We will be back here talking about tuition increases if we don’t get that state support,” Rastetter said.


Patrice Sayre, chief business officer for the Board of Regents, said Iowa’s board has held its five-year average annual inflation-adjusted increase in tuition and mandatory fees for undergraduate resident students to 1 percent, compared to a national increase of 13 percent.

And Rastetter noted an increase in state appropriations during that time. But, he stressed, that must continue, as the funding of Iowa’s public universities should be a statewide partnership.

“At the end of the day, the universities need resources,” Rastetter said. “It is critical for us to gain state support.”

Acknowledging the bump in state funding of late, Regent Larry McKibben urged Iowans to contact their local lawmakers and push them to continue making education a top priority.

“It is time that we stop the decline in the amount of support we get from our Legislature from our State of Iowa,” McKibben said. “It has been a downturn for the last decade, and it’s time it stops. We have made some headway, as President Rastetter indicated, but we have not made enough in my estimation.”

“It is time to stop,” said McKibben, a former legislator. “It is detrimental to the economic growth of this state. It sends us in the wrong direction.”

The board on Wednesday also agreed, without debate, to increase tuition for non-resident and graduate students at all three universities — 3 percent at ISU and UNI and 1.9 percent at UI. And no board members objected to a proposed tuition increase for international students at Iowa State.

That increase will up rates for all international ISU students — both current and new — by $500 a year for three years, totaling $1,500. Iowa State justified the request, citing an 18 percent increase in international students since 2011 and added costs to educate and serve them.


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The undergraduate resident tuition increases approved for the upcoming spring semester and next academic year come to $100 for one semester or $200 for the academic year. The increases will bring rates to $6,878 for UI students and $6,848 for ISU and UNI.

The last time the board increased resident undergraduate tuition was in the 2012-2013 school year — meaning the looming increases will end the longest sustained tuition freeze at Iowa’s public universities.

ISU President Steven Leath said if lawmakers fall short again this year of regent funding requests, his administration again might come forward with more differentiated tuition proposals — like the one approved for international students — for students in programs that cost more to run.

Rastetter said the board supports university efforts to consider funding alternatives if state support is insufficient.


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