In a somewhat rare move, the student body representatives for the three state-supported universities spoke out in favor of the proposed tuition increase today. They also called for the state to increase funding for the schools.
The Board of Regents heard the first reading of a proposed 3.75% tuition increase for in-state students at their meeting in Cedar Falls. University of Northern Iowa student body president, Spencer Walrath, said the increase is acceptable.
Walrath says the majority of students he has talked to support the increase because they “understand that without it, U.N.I. faces an even greater deficit than it already has.” He says the students want to be able maintain the “high quality education they already receive” and want to be able to get the classes they need.
Walrath say students are concerned about the way tuition has historically increased. “I believe that we have reached a turning point,” Walrath says, “students have been willing to cover our share of the costs, but we are now doing more than our share. When students are paying for almost 60% of the cost of their education at a public university, something in the formula must change.”
Iowa State University student body president, Dakota Hoben, had similar comments. He says it is “very encouraging” to see a tuition increase that falls in line with the higher education price index. Hoben says students understand the need for an increase in tuition to keep up with inflation.
But Hoben says students want to see the state put more money into the universities. Hoben says students hope the regents and legislature take not of the quality of work being done at the universities and understand it is important part of the U.S. being a global leader. “It is of significant importance that the regents and legislators view education as an investment, an investment in tomorrow,” Hoben said.
Hoben’s counterpart at the University of Iowa, Elliot Higgens said he also found support for the increase. Higgens says he understands that we are in a time that requires sacrifices, but he says public higher education has already “taken more than its fair share of cuts” as he says state support for the universities has fallen 23% in 2009 and 2010 alone.
Higgens says the tuition increase is well below what they’ve been used to. Higgens says increase would be one of the lowest in the last 30 years, as the average tuition increase in that time has been 7.3%, or almost double the current proposal.
Regents president, Craig Lang, continued the theme by pointing out the need for the legislature to come up with funding for the schools.
Lang says the request is “highly dependent upon the Iowa Legislature in coming through with the request in the appropriation.” He encouraged the students to continue working with the schools to press the legislature for funding.
The regents will take a final vote on the proposed tuition at their meeting in December.