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Regents approve $100 spring surcharge

BY EMILY BUSSE | DECEMBER 11, 2009 7:30 AM

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UI students will have to pay $100 more next semester after the state Board of Regents approved a tuition surcharge for spring semester Thursday on a 6-3 vote.

Originally presented at the board’s Oct. 29 meeting, the one-time $100 fee is meant to help fill the regent institutions’ budget gap.

Though Regents Michael Gartner, Greta Johnson, and Ruth Harkin were the only members who voted against the surcharge, Regent President David Miles said the fee is “certainly nothing I believe that any regent favors.”

“We appreciate [students’] sacrifice, we recognize it, and hope they understand,” he said. “In the scope of things I think this is a regrettable but reasonable sacrifice to ask of our students.”

Recent talk of a 6 percent tuition increase has forced UI freshman Collin Keegan to consider transferring back to the University of Maryland, his home-state school, in order to pay in-state tuition.

But he said the $100 will not really have a significant effect on his already hefty out-of-state tuition, and he sees the merit of the regents’ decision.

“In the end, it will help out the university a lot,” Keegan said.



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The $100 will be wrapped into next semester’s tuition and due the same day, Miles said, and the extra money will change financial-aid packages. The fee will be factored into need-based aid.

“While $100 is real money to all of us, it is not a large dollar figure,” Miles said. “You can anticipate it will not have a large impact on the financial-aid component.”

The total amount garnered from the surcharge at all three state institutions is predicted to recover approximately 10 percent of the $60 million budget gap left in the wake of Gov. Chet Culver’s statewide cuts in October.

The remaining 90 percent should come from “all other quarters” of the universities, Miles said.
Johnson, a senior at Iowa State University, said her being the only student representative on the board affected her decision to vote against the surcharge.

“You look at the constituents I am representing and … I try to look out for their best interests,” she said. “There is a student on the board for a reason.”

Because today was the first day students knew for sure they would pay the $100 is “pretty short notice for planning ahead,” she said.

UI Student Government officials announced their support of the surcharge in October, something UI President Sally Mason commended shortly after the regents approved the fee today. But in the same sentence, she went on to say the decision was made reluctantly.

“Obviously, asking our students to bear a portion of the burden of these budget cuts was not a place that any of us had hoped we would have to go,” she said. “I think everyone has stepped up and been willing to make some sacrifices.”

For junior Molly Shapleigh, asking students to compensate for state budget cuts is not the appropriate answer.

“It shouldn’t be our responsibility,” she said. “I just feel like that’s a shady way to get money quickly.”

Though Shapleigh does not pay for her tuition, she said $100 per student “seems like a lot.”

But Miles said the regents decided on the $100 amount after discussions with student leaders and found it “a reasonable figure overall.”

“There’s no magic figure, but we tried to find a number that would help alleviate and make a difference,” he said. “It could have been a little more, a little less.”


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