With recent cuts in state funding resulting in last-minute tuition increases, the Board of Regents created a task force to take a closer look at the future of tuition rates for Iowa's public universities. The goal of the task force is to make tuition more predictable and transparent for students and their families.
"It is time to be proactive and not reactive as we have been," said Larry McKibben, chair of the tuition task force.
Historically, the three regent institutions have kept tuition rates similar; however, the task force has provided each university with the opportunity to address its unique and individual needs through a five-year tuition proposal.
Iowa State University presented its proposal to the task force yesterday. It seeks to address the challenges created by a 37% surge in enrollment since fall 2008 with a concurrent 30% drop in state funding.
"Costs for higher education used to be a 50-50 partnership between the state legislature and those pursuing a degree," said Interim President Ben Allen.
After years of inadequate state support, that partnership has seen a dramatic shift with less than 30% covered by the state, which has increased the burden for students to nearly 70%. Last year, Iowa State received $3,700 less per resident student from the state to supplement the lower resident tuition rate. State cuts this year totaling $11.5 million have stretched the university to the breaking point.
"We are beginning to see indicators that our high-quality may be at risk unless we can obtain the resources necessary to address these issues," said Allen.
would increase resident undergraduate tuition rates by 7% in each of the next five years. Non-resident undergraduate tuition rates would increase by 4% over the same time period. Additionally, differential adjustments would be made to Engineering, Business, and additional STEM programs.
The proposal would direct new investments to four essential priorities:
- Faculty and staff recruitment to lower the student-to-faculty ratio to 16:1 to provide students with the individualized attention and instruction they need to be successful.
- Retention of faculty and staff by providing competitive pay to ensure students are learning from and supported by the best.
- Building capacity and maintenance to house the influx of students, faculty, and staff.
- Proportional increases for need-based financial aid relative to tuition increases.
"As a land-grant institution, we were established to educate anyone who is eligible regardless of socio-economic status," said Allen. "With any tuition increase, we are mindful that it can be difficult for students and families. We are committed to making additional investments in financial aid to ensure we remain accessible and affordable."
Allen emphasized that the university will continue to advocate strongly for increased state support. He added that if state funding changes significantly over the coming years, the tuition proposal would be reevaluated in a way that gives students and families plenty of time to plan accordingly.
"We must stop the troubling pattern of last-minute tuition changes based on state funding decisions," said Allen. "To fulfill our mission at the level of quality our students expect and deserve - we need the resources to invest in our future leaders, entrepreneurs, and innovators. This plan will move us in the right direction."
tuition task force
will provide a summary of the three university's proposals to the Board of Regents during its September meeting.