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The Iowa Board of Regents unanimously approved tuition increases Wednesday for students at Iowa’s three state universities, citing the need to maintain quality, affordable and accessible education despite stagnant state funding.
Starting this fall, Iowa resident undergraduate students at the University of Iowa and Iowa State University will pay 3.5 percent more in tuition and resident and non-resident undergrads at the University of Northern Iowa will pay 1.5 percent more, according the final vote on tuition increases.
“Our regent universities have found many ways to be efficient and have exceptionally low administrative costs compared to their peers,” Board President Mike Richards said Wednesday at the meeting in Cedar Falls. “Nevertheless, even with cost cutting and flat appropriations for the past two years our costs continue to rise. We still need financial resources to provide a quality education to our students.”
Iowa’s state universities held tuition and fees flat during the COVID-19 pandemic, despite a five-year plan that called for increasing tuition if lawmakers did not fulfill regent appropriation requests. For 2021-2022, the Iowa Legislature froze state funding for the general university appropriations, setting the stage for the tuition increase.
This year’s rate increases for resident undergraduates amount to:
- $283 for UI students, bringing their base tuition to $8,356
- $282 for ISU students, bringing the base rate to $8,324
- $115 for UNI students, bringing the base to $7,780.
The campuses also aim to increase rates for non-resident and graduate students and for those in more expensive programs.
The UI will implement a 3.5 percent increase for resident graduate students; ISU will have a 4 percent increase for that group; and UNI will increase tuition for in-state grad students by 1.5 percent. UNI did not propose an increase in mandatory student fees, but both the UI and ISU did.
Including tuition and fees, room and board, and other expenses, the estimated annual cost of attendance for resident undergraduates is projected to increase:
- $1,079.50, or 4.4 percent, to $25,534 at the UI
- $213, or 1 percent, to $22,192.90 at ISU
- $115, or .5 percent, to $21,409 at UNI.
The regents also unanimously approved the fiscal 2022 budgets of all three state universities and the regents’ special schools, which combined total $6.38 billion.
New UI President Barbara Wilson said the UI’s $4.4 billion budget for next year includes nearly $738 million in the general education fund, a 1.4 increase over fiscal 2021, but $8 million less than fiscal 2020.
“Even with the tuition increase you all just approved, we’re still going to be challenged to cover inflationary costs across all that we do,” Wilson said.
Wilson told the board for each $1 the UI spends on academics, the university spends just 11 cents on administrative costs, which is 32 percent less than the peer average reported by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni.
Regent David Barker asked Wilson, who has been on the job since July 15, whether it’s her sense the university is running well even with low administrative costs.
“The one area I worry about is our support for research,” Wilson said. “We may have gone a little lean on that side. We can’t attract and retain those great faculty without funding dollars, and many of those big grants require a lot of team science to make them work.”
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