It’s part of a plan to set the tuition rate for each of the next two school years, if there is a corresponding increase in state funds. Student government leaders at the schools spoke before the vote and University of Northern Iowa student body president, Hunter Flesch, says they took a poll on campus about the increase.
“The majority of students stated that they would not support this increase because college is becoming significantly more expensive year after year,” Flesch says. “However, many students commented that although this is another increase, the added predictability would make it easier to plan for.” Flesch says the biggest concern is that the tuition increase won’t be matched by an increase in state funding.
“This past year the state largely underfunded the three Regent’s schools from their original request — causing tuition to rise again. If the state decides that higher education is not the top priority for this next legislative session, the money will have to be made up somehow. Leaving all of our non-resident students who won’t have the fixed increase to support the rest of us,” Flesch says. He says that’s a big concern on the Cedar Falls campus where 85 percent of the students are from Iowa.
University of Iowa student president, Rachel Zuckerman, expressed her reservations about the tuition increase. “I’ll start by saving I am generally concerned about the future of higher education costs. Our country is moving in a dangerous direction where costs are spiraling out of control,” Zuckerman says. “I dream of the day where we can stop talking about tuition increases.”
Zuckerman says the Iowa schools are part of a national tuition arms race where they have to keep increasing to pay faculty more to keep up with other schools. “But I believe the money that will be incurred from these increases in necessary for the university to continue operating at our existing level and to remain competitive with other institutions. I would not be supporting an increase if I did not believe it was necessary to maintain the value of a University of Iowa degree,” Zuckerman says.
Iowa State University student body president, Cole Staudt, says the students he represents have both support and concerns about the tuition increase. “I understand why we raise tuition and the state of the economy in Iowa that has such and impact on funding,” Staudt says. “Over the summer we saw the direct impact state funding has on our students as the three universities and the board scrambled to increase revenue in order to provide the quality of education that I expect and we all expect from out public universities.”
Staudt also says the impact on out-fo-state students is the other key factor in the discussion. “My greatest concern with what is before us today is the growing divide in resident and non-resident tuition,” according to Staudt. “The simple fact is that resident tuition combined with general fund allocations from the state do not cover the cost of instruction and these costs are passed on to non-resident students.”
Staudt says the schools need to have students who are not from Iowa. “The contributions that non-residents make to the educational experience is valuable. They provide racial an ethnic diversity in a state that is 97 percent white,” Staudt says.
Manditory fees will increase by more than five percent at ISU, and Staudt praised a new $24 fee that will go toward providing more mental health services to students. There’s also a $130 records fee that he says will save students money over time. The manditory fees will increase by two percent at the University of Iowa and 2.6 percent at the University of Northern Iowa.
The Regents will have a second reading on the proposed increase at their meeting in December.