Governor Branstad visited two university campuses today to tout ideas he says would make a college education more affordable for Iowa students. Branstad is calling on the three state-funded universities to consider setting up a flat, $10,000 tuition fee for a bachelors degree in the four most popular degree tracks.
“Texas and Florida have already implemented similar changes for their universities and I believe Iowa should also do some as well,” Branstad said during a stop at Drake University.
In addition, Branstad suggests setting a “fixed price” for college degrees in at least half of the majors offered at Iowa, Iowa State and the University of Northern Iowa.
“One of the biggest challenges we’re facing is the debt load that students graduate with,” Branstad said.
Branstad, a Repblican who is seeking a sixth term as governor, has another idea for Iowans attending private college and universities in the state as well as Iowa students at the state-supported universities. He envisions setting up non-profit groups that would hand out grants to graduates to pay off their college debts. Branstad said the graduates should be required to do volunteer work to qualify for the grant — and he said the donors who put up the grant money should get some kind of a state tax credit.
“Obviously the amount that we’re going to be able to do is going to depend upon the state’s financial picture,” Branstad said.
And the budget numbers on which Branstad would base this and other state budget decisions won’t be available ’til December. Branstad and his running mate, Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds, met with students at Iowa State University this morning and at Drake University this afternoon.
AUDIO of Branstad/Reynolds appearace at Drake University, 20:00
The average debt load for an Iowa college graduate is about $29,000, the sixth-highest in the country.