Officials propose tuition hikes


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Officials at Iowa’s three state universities and state Board of Regents staff members have proposed a nearly 5 percent tuition increase for in-state students at the state’s three public universities for fiscal 2012 and an overall 4.7 percent increase in tuition and fees.

Out-of-state students at the University of Iowa face a 6 percent increase under the proposal.

John Rigby, the president of the UI Student Government, said he’s both disappointed and relieved by the regents’ plan.

“Taking it all, I’m realizing that it’s still an increase. That, in my mind, speaks to a larger problem we’re seeing in that the state is hindering our education,” Rigby said. “But at the same time, I know that number could be much higher.”

Undergraduate tuition and fees for in-state students would increase from $7,417 in 2010-11 to $7,765 for the 2011-12 — which is only about a third of the increase out-of-state students would see.

Fees at the UI will increase by 3.1 percent, far less than ISU’s increase of 20.4 percent.

In February 2010, regents approved a 6 percent tuition increase for all students.

Following a loss of more than $118 million in permanent budget reductions over the last two-and-a half-years, Gov. Terry Branstad proposed a 6 percent decrease in state appropriation for education last month. Legislators had denied the regents’ request for a roughly $18 million increase in funds.

“[The increase] was an attempt to try to balance all of the interest of students and parents and everyone associated with our institutions,” said Regent Robert Downer. “I suspect many students may feel it’s excessive, but in my opinion, it’s a very reasonable figure.”

Downer said out-of-state increases have been set higher in the past to off-set taxes paid by in-state students.

Some UI students said Wednesday they will be disappointed to see yet another increase in tuition.
Senior Hannah Schlenker said she thinks it’s “frustrating” to watch tuition continue to rise.

“I don't think it's fair that when we come here, we have one expectation, and they keep raising it even in a tough economy,” she said.

But Elizabeth Alonzi, also a senior, said she understands a tuition hike may be necessary.

“I think if [officials] can back up what they're doing and give a good reason why the tuition needs to increase, I think it's OK they're increasing it,” she said.

Rep. Dave Jacoby, D-Coralville, said he feels the increase is directly related to the $35 million in de-appropriations facing regents over the next two years.

“I have no doubt that if it wasn’t for the de-appropriations, we’d be looking at a 0 percent increase,” Jacoby said. “I’m disappointed that the regents had to go this route, but it is a direct result of Gov. Branstad’s proposal of budget reduction.”

Rep. Jeff Kaufmann, R-Wilton said he was disappointed to hear about the increase and believes regents could have settled on a lower number.

“If they settled on 5 percent, they could have easily gone down to 4,” he said. “It concerns me to see where their figures have ended up.”

Iowa is not the only state facing increasing tuition.

Arizona regents plan to increase tuition after suffering a nearly $170 million decrease in state appropriations over the last two years, said Arizona Regent Chairwoman Anne Mariucci.

“Here, we’re dealing with one of the fastest growing higher-education systems and one of the deepest budget crisis,” she said. “And any other state in a similar situations would look to higher tuition as we have and will.”

Iowa House representatives adopted an amendment Jan. 20 that could place a 4 percent cap on tuition and fees. If the amendment were adopted by the Senate, Jacoby said, it would supersede the regents’ proposal.

Regents will discuss the tuition and fees proposal during their meeting today before voting on any changes March 23.

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