The board which governs the University of Iowa, Iowa State and the University of Northern Iowa has approved a 19 percent increase in tuition for instate students for the next academic year. The money raised makes up for some but not all of the budget cuts state legislators have made in the universities’ budgets. Iowa State University president Gregory Geoffrey (joh’-free) says he reluctantly supports the increase, and his priority will be hiring and rehiring faculty. University of Iowa interim president Sandy Boyd also supported the increase, as did University of Northern Iowa president Robert Koob, who says the increased tuition is causing more students to choose a cheaper, two-year community college degree rather than a four-year degree. Koob says that’s damaging to the state’s economy, as he says it’s well-documented that folks with a bachelor’s degree drive the economy. Regent David Fisher of Des Moines says tuition at the state universities is competitive with peer institutions. And Fisher says people who hold a bachelor’s degree earn twice as much over their lifetime as folks with only a high school education, and that makes the price of tuition an investment that yields great returns. Regent Dave Neil of Waterloo voted against the tuition increase. Neil says his “no” was meant to send a message that legislators shouldn’t keep shifting more of the cost of running the universities on the backs of students. Regent Mary Ellen Becker of Ottumwa says she’s sympathetic to the students’ complaints that class sizes aren’t getting smaller, but cautioned that even with the tuition increase, there’ll be more “belt-tightening” at the universities. Students also against the magnitude of the increase, urging other means of making up for state budget cuts.
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