A member of the State Board of Regents says a proposal by the House Speaker to give students a guaranteed tuition rate won’t work. Regent David Neil of La Porte City says it would be tough to tie tuition to the rate of inflation over a four year period as the House Speaker proposes. Neil says he’d like to have the board office go back four years and roll it forward to see what would have happened. Neil calls it nothing more than a cost shift. House Speaker Christopher Rants, a Republican from Sioux City, has suggested offering students and parents a guarantee that tuition will go up no more than the rate of inflation in their sophomore, junior and senior years on campus. Neil says the Rants plan won’t work. He says it’s not the answer to the problem, he says “it’s nothing but a cost shift to future generations, and we’ve done enough of that in this country.” Neil’s comments came as the Regents held their first discussion today on a proposal to increase tuition by just over eight percent. University of Iowa President David Skorton says the recent double-digit increases in tuition haven’t kept up with the cuts in state funding. Skorton says approving the proposed rate could be a problem. Skorton says the universities are taking a “calculated risk” that they’ll suffer no more cuts from the state. Regent John Forsyth of Des Moines agrees with Skorton. Forsyth says the big risk is how the institutions are going to balance their budgets. Forsyth estimates, with the cuts, the universities are down to 1997 levels of support from the state. Iowa State University president Gregory Geoffrey warns that the eight percent tuition increase will not provide enough cushion if the legislature fails to provide more money to the universities. Geoffrey says the eight percent increase means there’s no flexibility to use tuition revenue to raise professors’ salaries. The Board of Regents will vote in November to set tuition rates for next year.
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