Drake University in Des Moines says it will raise tuition by 2.9% for the 2009-2010 academic year — the lowest tuition increase in a decade. Drake president David Maxwell says they went through a process eight years ago that looked at all programs and that has allowed them to run very efficiently and keep things cost effective.

Maxwell says they are increasing board costs by 4.5% due to rising food costs, but he says they believe they can manage other costs. He says the projections for fuel costs appear to be flat, and they don’t anticipate an increase in medical costs, which has been an issue in the past.

Maxwell says the biggest single issue they face is providing "competitive and equitable" salaries to the staff. Maxwell says a majority of the tuition increase will go toward salaries. Drake is a private school and Maxwell says they hope keeping the tuition increase lower will help them competing public schools.

Maxwell says they hope that parents and students when comparing Drake to public schools will not just look at the sticker price, as he says 98% of students get financial assistance. He says the average award is $18,000 a year in the form of scholarships, work study and loans. Maxwell says the school also sells its size and availability of classes as a benefit for undergraduates.

Maxwell says the overwhelming majority of undergraduates get a degree in four years, while the average time to graduate in public institution is five years and he says it’s creeping up on six. He says that gives you four years of paying the tuition, plus graduates get into the workforce sooner at Drake compared to public institutions.

Maxwell says the uncertainty in the economy is an issue for all schools right now, public or private. Maxwell says they have a set of indicators they are watching, as everyone else is. "The longer the downturn lasts, the large the potential damage on all of us, colleges and universities to the resources of our students and parents," Maxwell says. Next year’s comprehensive fee for undergraduates, including tuition, room and board and mandatory fees at Drake will rise from $32,392 to $33,422.

The board that governs the three state supported universities voted Wednesday to increase tuition at the schools by an average of 4.2%. Under the plan, University of Iowa and Iowa State University students would see a 4.6% increase in tuition and fees, while students at the University of Northern Iowa would see a 4.1% increase. The increase would bring the total for tuition and fees to $6,650 at I-S-U, $6,824 dollars at Iowa and $6,636 at U-N-I.