Higher education

Universities asked to present five-year tuition models to regents by September

'Tuition task force' begins meeting in June

Board of Regents State of Iowa members listen to staff and faculty representatives from the state’s three public universities during a meeting at the Iowa School for the Deaf in Council Bluffs, Iowa, on Thursday, April 20, 2017. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
Board of Regents State of Iowa members listen to staff and faculty representatives from the state’s three public universities during a meeting at the Iowa School for the Deaf in Council Bluffs, Iowa, on Thursday, April 20, 2017. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

After considering final approval next week of an additional last-minute tuition increase, Iowa’s Board of Regents will receive information about a new “tuition task force” that will convene this summer and involve legislative representatives.

A tentative timeline for the task force has it meeting from June through September, in hopes of reporting findings at the board’s September meeting. The goal, according to former board President Bruce Rastetter, is to map out a more predictable tuition model that allows families to plan for potential increases and avoid last-minute rate increase surprises — like the one looming this year.

Board of Regent representatives assigned to the task force are Larry McKibben, Milt Dakovich, Sherry Bates and Nancy Boettger.

The meetings, according to a brief summary made public Tuesday, will include a presentation from a national expert and listening sessions on the University of Iowa, Iowa State University and University of Northern Iowa campuses. Those sessions, according to board documents, aim to gather input from students, parents and members of the public on tuition-setting policies and practices.

The three universities also have been tasked with presenting a five-year model for tuition, along with student leadership perspective on tuition. On the state level, participants will include legislative leadership or designees and representatives from the Legislative Services Agency, Department of Management and the governor’s office.

The Iowa Association of Business and Industry, Iowa Department of Workforce Development and Iowa Department of Economic Development also are expected to be represented, according to regent documents.

Max Freund / The Gazette

The national presenter has been identified as Robert Toutkoushian, a professor of higher education in the Institute for Higher Education at the University of Georgia.

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“Dr. Toutkoushian specializes in the application of economic theories and quantitative methods to problems in higher education,” according to regent documents.

Before receiving a presentation on the proposed task force next week, the board will consider final approval of a tuition increase that would add 3 percent to an already-approved 2-percent increase for resident undergraduates at all three public universities this fall.

The 5-percent total increase amounts to $358 more this fall than last for resident undergraduates at the three schools. Beyond resident undergraduates, ISU and UNI have requested upping rates by an extra $216 for nonresidents and graduate students.

UI, meanwhile, is proposing a 3.8 percent increase for its other student classifications, resulting in a broad array of increases. Non-resident undergraduates, for example, could see an additional $1,078 increase.

This is the second-straight year of last-minute tuition increases after lawmakers last summer — like this year — failed to fulfill the board’s funding request. Board leadership this year vowed to avoid a repeat tuition increase, so long as lawmakers upped appropriations by 2 percent.

But the Legislature fell far short of that request, clawing back $20.8 million from the board’s current general education budget and then further cutting base appropriations for the upcoming budget year.

The proposed tuition rate increases are expected to help close the funding gap by generating $25.7 million — $16.5 million for the UI, $7.12 million for ISU and $2 million for UNI.

l Comments: (319) 339-3158; vanessa.miller@thegazette.com

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