University of Northern Iowa President William Ruud says the effort to freeze tuition at the three state universities for a third consecutive year will likely hinge on Governor Terry Branstad’s decision on state funding for the schools.
The governor has said he doesn’t like the legislature’s decision to provide “one time” money for a single year instead of adding it to the overall base funding for the universities.
“If the one time money is vetoed, we will have some challenges yet this fall if the tuition freeze stays on,” Ruud said. Lawmakers approved $5.1 million for UNI’s annual base funding and $1.1 million in one time funding. According to Ruud, it’s not enough. “No, it’s not. We asked for $8.1 million,” Ruud said. “We have a systemic structural funding deficit that has existed over the last 50 years. We are very thankful to the legislature and hopefully the governor for the $5.1 million and the $1.1 million, but it’s a beginning. It’s to begin to get us on the right track to a point where we can not only sustain, but grow programs.”
About 90-percent of UNI’s roughly 12,000 students are from Iowa. Ruud doesn’t believe there’s a need or desire to grow enrollment at UNI much higher than 14,000. “We can grow back to that number with no new structural changes; no additional buildings and no new residence halls,” Ruud said. “Most people in the Cedar Falls-Waterloo community like that number. They like 13,500 to 14,000.”
Ruud made his comments today during a taping of the Iowa Public Television program “Iowa Press” which air tonight and again on Sunday.