Student leaders from the University of Iowa are pleading with decision-makers to reduce a proposed fall semester tuition hike, but students from Iowa State and UNI say without the tuition increase that’s proposed, administrators will have to make cuts in campus programs.

Hunter Flesch, the president of the University of Northern Iowa student body, this afternoon said the majority of students on the Cedar Falls oppose the tuition hike.

“But when we look at the big picture for UNI and, really, for higher education in Iowa, what other option is there right now?” he asked.

The Board of Regents asked lawmakers to provide an additional $20 million in state tax dollars for the schools. The legislature’s final budget plan provided an extra $6 million. The board is now considering a $300 increase in tuition rates for students at Iowa, Iowa State and UNI who are Iowa residents. Cole Staudt, the student body president at Iowa State University, is “reluctantly” supporting the proposal.

“No one wants a tuition increase,” Staudt said today. “I mean, why would they? However, what we are faced with as a university is a choice between quality and affordability.”

Staudt said there are issues on the Ames campus that must be addressed and students need to convince legislators to increase taxpayer support to the state universities next year.

“I believe that Iowa State is a national institution, not a regional one,” Staudt said, “and if you want to perform like a national institution, you need the funding to do so.”

UNI’s student body president said it’s time to pressure legislators to put “students first” when prioritizing state spending.

“Without the support necessary, the burden of tuition increases like these will continue to bury students under debt for years to come,” Flesch said.

University of Iowa officials are asking to increase tuition even higher for students in professional colleges and in upper level business and engineering courses. Josh Schoenfeld, a fifth year medical student at the University of Iowa, is president of the student government for graduate and professional students on the Iowa City campus. He asked the Board of Regents to consider an across-the-board, $200 tuition rate increase for all students at the University of Iowa.

“This number allows an increase in university revenue above and beyond what the deficit in state allocations was, but does not overly burden our students financially,” Schoenfeld said.

University of Iowa student body president Rachel Zuckerman supports the lower, $200 tuition hike for the fall semester, too.  Zuckerman said the higher rates will hurt low-income, first-generation students the most.

“When we think of numbers of this magnitude, it is important we remember the very real students affected by these decision,” she said.

The nine-member Board of Regents is meeting today in Ames. The board will make the decision about fall tuition hikes at its July meeting.

“This is probably the most difficult decision I’ve faced since the time I joined the board two and a half years ago,” Board of Regents member Larry McKibben of Marshalltown told the students after they spoke during today’s meeting.

Republican Governor Terry Branstad last week said he thought a $300 tuition hike was “too high.” State Representative Pat Grassley — the Republican who lead budget writing efforts in the Iowa House — has questioned the proposed tuition hike, too.