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Regents to consider room and board increases

BY ARIANA WITT | APRIL 22, 2011 7:20 AM

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University of Iowa students who plan to live in the residence halls during the next academic year could face the largest cost increase among the three state schools.

UI officials are proposing a 5 percent increase in room and board for the 2011-12 academic year — from $7,662 to $8,042 for students living in double occupancy with full board. The state Board of Regents is set to vote on the proposal April 28.

Room and board would increase by 3 percent at Iowa State University and 4.3 percent at the University of Northern Iowa should regents approve the rates.

Von Stange, the director of UI Housing, said the increase will help cover the costs of several UI housing ventures, including off-campus leasing.

"[The increase] is not necessarily a compromise," he said. "We wanted to make sure it wasn't a number that was too far out of line for students given the tuition increase that's already been seen."

Last month, the regents approved 5 and 6 percent tuition increases for many of the UI students.
Stange said the dorm rates represent an average increase over the last 10 years, but they are higher than last year's 4 percent increase.

Many UI students said they are disappointed in the potential hike.

"I'm sure my parents would be upset," said UI freshman Abby Grilli, who plans to live in Hillcrest next year.

UI freshman Samantha Robinson, who will also live in Hillcrest, said she knows her financial aid will fall short of the new room rates.

"I have scholarships that I get, but they're not going to be enough to cover me," she said. "I don't why it's going up so much. It seems like the recession is hitting us pretty hard."

The rising cost of campus living is nothing new, said Richard Vedder, the director of the Center of College Affordability.

He said that from 2000 to 2010, while housing prices on the open market were going up, housing prices associated with universities were rising by around four times as much.

"This is a trend that's been going on for a while," Vedder said. "And at a time when the overall inflation rate is about 2 to 4 percent, universities tend to want to raise room and board more and more."

Vedder said that traditionally, increases are used to offset the upkeep costs of residential halls and dining and that it's unusual for a university to want to use those fees for off-campus business, as UI officials plan to.

"It's my suspicion is that in times of tight budgets, some universities might be trying to use the room and board funds to cover things that have been covered by general university funds," he said.

At the UI, the Housing Department is self-funded.

UI sophomore Jordan Mickle said he understands the potential increase.

"With the student population on the rise, I'm sure it would be hard to house all the incoming freshmen and sophomores without asking for more money," said Mickle, who lives in Mayflower. "But a lot of people don't have that money and can't afford it."

Rep. Mary Mascher, D-Iowa City, said she hopes increasing housing, tuition, book, and food costs don't act as "another barrier" to keep students out of college or unable to complete a degree in four years.


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