University of Iowa officials have reinstated scholarships for nearly 2,500 students after announcing a week ago the scholarships would be cancelled to help balance the university’s budget.
The University of Iowa’s president must find a way to pare more than $9 million from the current year’s budget. Senate Democratic Leader Rob Hogg of Cedar Rapids says Republicans who enacted the budget-cutting plan have put university officials in a pinch.
“Iowans I think would be shocked to know — and this is a fact — that we are providing less (state taxpayer) money today for the University of Iowa than we did in 1999,” Hogg told Radio Iowa this afternoon. “Not in inflated dollars, but in actual dollars we are providing less money today than we did in 1999.”
Last week, nearly 2500 scholarships that were not awarded based on the student’s financial need were cancelled for the fall semester. Now, the university is reinstating those scholarships for students who got the money because their parents or grandparents graduated from the university or who were transferring in from a community college. Reinstating those scholarships was the right move, according to Hogg.
“Reneging on promised scholarships was one of the worst things they could do for the university,” Hogg said. “However, I understand the very difficult financial situation the Republican majority has put the university in with major, mid-year budget cuts and we need Iowans to speak up and tell Republican legislators it is time to support our universities.”
Last week, Republican lawmakers like House Speaker Linda Upmeyer criticized the University’s decision to cancel these scholarships.
“It also is surprising to hear that they had the record breaking $2 billion fundraising year and this $4 million is less than a half a percent of that,” Upmeyer told reporters last week.
Upmeyer said Republican legislators made a lower cut to the universities than Governor Branstad had recommended in January.
Today’s University of Iowa announcement:
After careful consideration we have decided to reinstate, for current students and students enrolling in the fall of 2017, scholarships previously identified for elimination, including:
• Iowa Heritage Award
• Iowa Heritage Transfer Award
• President’s Heritage Award
• 2 Plus 2 Transfer Scholarship
• Iowa Community College Transfer Academic Scholarship
As is the current practice, students must maintain the original conditions of the scholarship. Moving forward, we must continue to place a priority on need-based and merit-based awards, which is why the scholarships listed above will still be discontinued for new students starting in 2018.
Over the past few days, we heard from many families who were unaware that these were renewable scholarships reliant on state support. Though these were never need based, we also heard from families who budgeted for college based on these scholarships and feared financial hardship with the programs’ elimination.
“I want to thank the students and parents who contacted me and shared their concerns. The University of Iowa takes its relationship with students and alumni very seriously and wants to honor the awards previously made to those currently receiving these awards,” says UI President Bruce Harreld.
Continuing these scholarships while absorbing the $9.2 million reduction in state funding will not be easy. If the state reduction becomes permanent, it will return the UI to the level of state funding provided in fiscal year 2014.
“Over the past few days I have had productive conversations with members of the Board of Regents, the governor, and the Iowa General Assembly. I appreciate their willingness to establish predictable tuition revenue increases and state support moving forward,” says Harreld. “We all realize that without new and stable resources, the university will not be able to execute its recently approved strategic plan and keep providing high-quality education to students in line with its national peers.”