Iowa State University’s president is proposing a tuition hike, so juniors and seniors at the school would pay higher tuition rates than freshmen and sophomores.
“It reflects the higher cost associated with more advanced and increasingly specialized coursework, learning opportunities, personalized instruction, smaller classes that you get as you proceed through your undergraduate education,” ISU president Steven Leath said this week during a speech in Ames.
Leath will ask the board that governs the university for permission to phase in this new, “two-tiered” structure over a three-year period.
“It’s a straight-forward approach. It’s a manageable approach, a reasonable approach,” Leath said.
Last December, Leath told the governor his university was nearly at a “tipping point” because there’s been an enrollment “surge” for the past eight years, but state funding hasn’t increased at a comparable rate.
“I definitely appreciate what the governor, the legislature and the Board of Regents have done for us and try to do for us,” Leath said Wednesday night, “but the reality is it’s not enough.”
There are 36,660 students on campus this fall. Eight years ago, about half of the university’s budget came from state tax dollars and half from tuition. Today, student tuition accounts for 70 percent of Iowa State’s budget, with state support falling to 30 percent.
“We would need the legislature to increase our general state appropriation by $65 million at one time to get us back to where we were in 2008,” Leath said. “The bottom line is that’s not going to happen.”
Leath made his comments during an annual address to students (watch it here).
“I want everyone here to know and everyone that reads this or hears this speech that we gave this very careful consideration,” Leath said. “Nobody in a position like mine wants to raise the cost of education.”
According to Leath, the “incremental” changes he proposes will help “maintain the quality” of a degree from ISU, plus he said Iowa State “quite likely” would retain the “most affordable” tuition level among its peer group of land-grant universities.
“We’re not getting way out ahead of our skis on this thing,” Leath said.
Leath is also promising to be more aggressive in raising money for scholarships. Leath has been Iowa State’s president since January of 2012.