116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Home / News / Education / Higher Ed
Regent: Proposed tuition hike is essentially a cut, given inflation
Iowa’s Board of Regents holds first of two required tuition-setting readings
The Board of Regents on Thursday — without much discussion — held its first of two required readings on a tuition increase for all students across its three public universities, with final approval expected in June.
David Barker was the only regent to comment publicly on the tuition proposal during Thursday reading, calling it — effectively — a rate cut.
“Our increase in undergraduate tuition is 3.5 percent, which is well below the most recent inflation numbers, which are running close to 5; below the most recent increase in Iowa personal income per capita, that's about 7.4 percent; below the most recent median household income numbers in Iowa, which is about 5.2 percent,” Barker said.
“So we're continuing to be affordable for middle class Iowans,” he said. "Actually, in real terms after inflation, we're cutting tuition because our increase is less than the inflation rate.“
Student leaders representing their nearly 69,000 peers enrolled at the University of Iowa, Iowa State University, and University of Northern Iowa will give regents their feedback on the proposed rates at the final reading, Chief Business Officer Brad Berg said.
Under the tuition proposal, every UI, ISU, and UNI resident undergraduate student will see a 3.5 percent increase in the 2023-24 academic year.
That bump would amount to $305 more for UI resident undergrads, bringing the total to $9,016 a year; $304 more at ISU, bringing the annual resident undergraduate total to $8,982; and $285 more at UNI, for a total base rate of $8,396.
Proposed tuition increases for out-of-state students and graduate students differ by campus — with each university also offering a slew of “differential tuition rates” for costlier or more competitive programs.
At the base rate level, UNI wants to increase rates for all students — regardless of residency or level — by 3.5 percent, while Iowa State is proposing upping rates 4 percent for all students who aren’t resident undergraduates.
UI’s tuition proposal aims to keep its dollar increases the same for both residents and non-residents at the undergraduate and also at the graduate level. At the undergrad level, the $305 increase amounts to a 1 percent rate hike for out-of-state students.
At the UI graduate level, a $381 increase amounts to a 3.5 percent bump for resident students and 1.3 percent increase for non-residents.
Driving the higher rates, according to regent documents, is lawmakers’ decision in the recent Legislative session to appropriate no general education funding increase for the three public universities.
⧉ Related article: Lawmakers link modest university funding bumps to specific programs
Instead, the Legislature kept general education funding flat but appropriated an additional $7.1 million for specific asks across the three campuses — committing $2.8 million for nursing initiatives at UI; $2.8 million for STEM activities at ISU; and $1.5 million for teacher-education efforts at UNI.
That's a far cry from the $32 million increase in general education support the board requested in the fall for the upcoming budget year, beginning July 1.
“The tuition hikes considered today are just the latest result of Statehouse Republicans’ failure to support Iowans and build a stronger future for our state,'' Sen. Herman Quirmbach, D-Ames, said in a statement. “These increases will make it harder for Iowans to go to college and will push many students further into debt.”
Citing challenges Iowa is facing to meet workforce demands, Quirmbach tied the tuition increases directly to legislative decisions.
"Instead of investing in our workforce and making it easier for Iowans to access the skills employers need, Republican politicians are raising college prices and making our challenges worse,” he said. “State funding for higher education is now less than it was in 2016.”
Vanessa Miller covers higher education for The Gazette.
Comments: (319) 339-3158; firstname.lastname@example.org