President Allen announced Iowa State University's
fall 2017 enrollment
of 36,321 students at the Board of Regents meeting last week. This year marks the second largest student body in school history, following a decade of growth and eight consecutive years of record enrollment.
Iowa State continues to enroll more Iowans than any other university in the world. More than half of the student population is from Iowa, representing all 99 counties. Additionally, students come from all 50 states and 127 countries. Nonresident enrollment is 12,363 and international enrollment is 4,115, down just 16 students from last year's record. Total U.S. multicultural and international students make up 24% (8,789) of the student body -- representing the most diverse campus in Iowa State history.
Also coming out of the Board of Regents meeting, a summary of the Tuition Task Force meetings held at each of the three institutions over the summer was provided by Larry McKibben, chair of the tuition task force. Key points from McKibben include:
- Iowa's public universities are in the lower one-third nationally in terms of tuition and fees for in-state students. In addition, Iowa's six-year graduation rates are number one in the nation.
- The three universities have made significant progress in reducing the average amount of student debt in recent years. However, state appropriations have been on a downward trend. In fact, this year's appropriation is essentially equal to what was received in 1998 (not adjusted for inflation).
- In just the last budget year alone, the legislature and governor have reduced support for Iowa's public universities operating budgets by some $30 million dollars. This decrease in state support has led to necessary tuition increases, putting more of the cost of higher education on the backs of Iowa students and their families.
- While overall institutional financial aid to students has significantly increased, Iowa ranks last in the nation in the amount of state-awarded/need-based financial aid to public university students.
- Most students and families understand and expect some annual increases in tuition as the cost of living goes up, but tuition increases need to be more predictable and not be forced to continue the pattern of multiple increases in the same year.
- The Board must develop a tuition level that is appropriate and sustainable over time. A balance of state support, institutional savings, and tuition adjustments needs to be implemented.
The Board will present a first reading of fall 2019 tuition rates at its October meeting.
Iowa State is committed to making additional proportional investments in need-based financial aid to ease the burden on students and their families. Furthermore, Iowa State is implementing a new initiative to provide completion grants for students facing financial challenges, specifically as they near graduation.
Last month, the University Innovation Alliance (UIA) -- a consortium of 11 public research universities including Iowa State -- announced the initiative to provide last-mile grants which will alleviate financial pressure and support college completion. Early data shows that about 4,000 Pell-eligible college seniors who are in good academic standing are at risk of being dropped from their classes or unable to graduate because they have an outstanding balance of less than $1,000.
Funded through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Great Lakes Higher Education Corporation & Affiliates, the emergency aid will enable UIA institutions to provide completion grants to students over the next five semesters. Additional information on the implementation of the grant at Iowa State will be available in the spring.