News that the University of Iowa is canceling some scholarships to handle the state budget cuts has sparked controversy among state lawmakers.
Democrats are blaming Republicans for a bill that cut $8 million from the U-I budget for this year. Senator Rob Hogg, a Democrat from Cedar Rapids, is urging Republicans who control the both houses of the Iowa Legislature to restore the cuts to the three state school’s budgets.”This affects current students, it affects incoming students,” according to Hogg.
U-I President Bruce Harreld told the Board of Regents they are sending out letters to some 2,400 students who will see their financial aid packages reduced by an average of $1,700 for the school year that starts in the fall. Hogg said families were counting on that money and are now expressing their concern. “I’ve already heard from multiple constituents of mine about the kind of exasperation,” Hogg says.
House Speaker Linda Upmeyer, a Republican from Mason City says the University of Iowa is playing politics with the scholarship cuts. “I think it’s really disappointing and in fact a little bit misleading when the university takes this approach. When the regents actually said they could absorb that cut originally when the governor made that suggestion. We made a lower cut than what the governor suggested,” Upmeyer says.
Upmeyer says the school and the University of Iowa Foundation could have found a way to pay the promised scholarships. “It is also surprising to hear that they had the record-breaking $2 billion fundraising year — and this four million dollars is less than half a percent of that,” Uppmeyer says. “So I think it is really unfortunate that they are reneging on student scholarships.”
Uppmeyer suggest the U-I take another look at their budget.”Well I hope that they reconsider their position on the scholarships,” she says.
Senate Majority Leader Bill Dix, a Republican from Shell Rock says the university had other choices, but broke a promise to students instead.
Joyce Russell of Iowa Public Radio contributed to this story.