Regents may consider rescinding surcharge


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Today’s state Board of Regents meeting may come with a surprise — the rescinding of the $100 tuition surcharge for the spring semester.

Earlier this week, President Sally Mason told The Daily Iowan that UI officials would announce a budget-related proposal to the regents that would be “exciting for the students.”

While Regent Robert Downer couldn’t confirm that the surcharge would be returned, he said it could be what UI officials plan to discuss.

“I cannot say; we haven’t had a conversation about it at this time,” he said. “It may very well be on the agenda, but there’s no firm idea right now.

The possibility was raised after Gov. Chet Culver’s request to return $14 million of budget cuts to UI this fiscal year.

In October 2009, the regents approved the surcharge for this semester by a 5-4 vote. The surcharge was used in effort to meet budget cuts of roughly $60 million.

UI sophomore Kourtney Kirkpatrick said such a possibility is “awesome.”

“I have financial aid that pays for most of school, but I did have to pick up the extra $100 on my own.”

Tuition increases for the 2010-11 academic year are also on the regents’ agenda.

If the proposal is approved, UI undergraduates and graduate students face a 6 percent increase in base tuition — a response, in part, to a 24 percent cut in regent universities’ state appropriations.

Such a slice means the schools will start fiscal 2011 with $162 million less than in fiscal 2009.

UI officials have said a tuition increase is necessary to continue academic excellence, research, and outreach programs.

In addition to base-tuition hikes, certain UI programs may also see extra costs, if the regents approve them.

All graduate education majors could see an additional $1,350 on top of their tuition, and law students may see a $1,200 fee. Medical students could see an added fee of up to $1,814

The differing amounts didn’t sit well with UI medical student and first-year class representative Shady Henien.

“Med school is already the most expensive tuition for any professional school,” Henien said. “If they’re going to add these extra costs, it should be across the board.”

Junior and senior undergraduates in the UI School of Engineering may also pay an extra $250.

In addition to fees and tuition, the regents will review the UI requests to replace the Voxman Music Building/Clapp Recital Hall and Hancher Auditorium, which the 2008 flood destroyed.

UI officials plan to recommend placing the music facilities on Clinton Street just south of Burlington Street and rebuilding Hancher Auditorium northwest of its current location on higher ground.

The recommendation comes after an analysis of flood risk, availability of commercial insurance, and Federal Emergency Management Agency assistance in case of future flooding. Officials also considered sustainable energy costs.

“We’re hoping our proposal is approved and we can move forward,” Hancher Executive Director Charles Swanson said. “We have a lot of work ahead, but we are optimistic and excited and know there are great opportunities.”

Regents will also take a look at a preliminary proposal for the restoration of the IMU. According to regent documents, the ground floor of the IMU could be open by winter break of 2011-12 .

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