The Iowa Department of Education says mandatory fees and tuition for community colleges increased an average of 5.9% this year. Department consultant, Tom Schenk, says the average cost of tuition at the 15 community colleges is $3,948. Schenk says the ratio of state aid to tuition and fees has shifted since the community colleges were started in the 1960’s.
He says back then the state aid portion was about 50-percent and tuition and fees covered about 20-percent. As we moved into the 70’s and 80’s tuition and fees started to increase as state aid remained about the same. Schenk says the increase in fees and tuition continued in the last two decades.
He says in the 1990’s and 2000’s there was a dramatic decrease in state aid and now the state aid is around 30-percent, with the rest of the cost covered by tuition and fees. Schenk says Iowa’s tuition and fees for community colleges are not the highest in the midwest region.
Schenk says Iowa actually dropped in the rankings to fourth as Wisconsin moved ahead of Iowa into third place. He says other states such as Missouri, Illinois, Kansas and Nebraska have some of the lowest tuition and fees in the region. Schenk compared the history of community college tuition and fee increases to the state universities.
Schenk says some years the regents schools have greater increases on a percentage basis, while other years the community colleges have had higher increases. This year he says the community colleges have had a slightly higher increase. While community college tuition and fees continue to rise, they remain more than one third lower than the state’s three regent universities.
Schenk made his comments in a recent presentation to the Board of Education. You can see the entire report at the Department of Education’s website at: www.educateiowa.gov.