About a hundred students from Iowa, Iowa State and U-N-I are at the statehouse today (Wednesday) asking lawmakers to send at least 40-million more to their schools. Rachel Geilenfeld, an Iowa State University junior from Clear Lake, says she came to speak for the 70-thousand students who attend the three state-supported universities. “We realize the need to keep our institutions world class,” Geilenfeld says.

Bridget Henry of Clinton, a junior at University of Iowa, says students are financially overburdened because tuition has gone up 70 percent in the past five years. “I have to wonder if there are high school seniors out there right now who are wondering if they can afford to stay in Iowa for their college experience or if they can even afford a college education at all,” Henry says.

Nathan Zoromski, a senior at Iowa State who’s from Joplin, Missouri, says the reason graduates of the three state schools take higher-paying jobs in other states is because of their massive debt. Zormoski says the average student leaves one of the three schools about 20-thousand dollars in debt. “Money is a dirty five-letter word in these circumstances,” Zoromski says.

The Board of Regents has said if lawmakers provide that 40-million dollars extra, they will keep tuition rate increases at the level of inflation. “We are not asking for the moon here,” Zoromski says. “Legislators: the decision is yours.” Malia Engelbach of Cedar Rapids, a senior at the University of Northern Iowa, says she works two jobs, gets financial help from her parents and earned some scholarships but still had to take out loans to cover her college expenses. “No amount of planning or saving can prepare a family to budget for college when tuition rises at unpredictable rates each year,” she says.