Student groups to lobby statewide following proposed tuition hike

BY DORA GROTE | OCTOBER 24, 2011 7:20 AM

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University of Iowa Student Government leaders and state officials said students should continue to reach out to their legislators to come up with solutions for rising tuition, following a proposal for further tuition increases by the state Board of Regents on Oct. 21.

The regents propose a 3.75 percent tuition increase for in-state undergraduate students and a 4.75 percent increase for out-of-state undergraduate students. The regents will also propose a 3.8 percent tuition increase for in-state graduate students during their meeting in Cedar Falls on Wednesday and Thursday.

In the 2011-12 school year, in-state tuition increased 5 percent, and out-of-state tuition increased 6 percent.

And though student government leaders have lobbied legislators heavily throughout the past year for more state appropriations, student officials said Sunday they plan to launch an even more aggressive campaign as soon as possible.

"We need to reach out to all parts of the state and show them that we're making progress and contributing to the wealth of academic knowledge," said Abhay Nadipuram, the governmental-relations coordinator for the Executive Council of Graduate and Professional Students.

Nadipuram said they hope to bring together important university officials, faculty, and students to hold townhall meetings throughout the state of Iowa in order to promote the UI and show Iowans why the UI deserves their tax dollars.

Nadipuram said all three regent universities would be involved.

"We need to continue to write to legislators and show why the university is worth X amount of dollars to taxpayers," Nadipuram said. "And we have to continue to show up to lobbying days."

Executive Council Vice President Michael Appel agreed, noting that it is important for students to show legislators and taxpayers how their work affects the state and the nation.

Greg Forristall, R-Macedonia, the chairman of the House Education Committee said the solution to reducing tuition increases is finding alternative ways to maintain a high level of education without adding cost.

"Raising tuition forever is not acceptable — it has to be affordable," he said. "We have to find ways to have an even better education but do it with less money."

Forristall said students need to approach legislators with innovative ideas rather than ask for more state funding.

"I would like students to contact me or other legislators with other innovative ideas for a higher education," he said. "I want people to be thinking outside of the box."

Regent President Pro Tem Bruce Rastetter said tuition is continually increasing because the inflation of costs the universities incur to run the institutions, and there are a variety of cost factors.

"It is more expensive to manage the universities and to continue providing excellence in education," Rastetter said, adding that he encourages students to lobby and support the regents' plans.

"We're encouraging the students to think through how they can articulate to Iowans why the university is important to all Iowans and their daily lives and can help create economic and quality economic opportunities for Iowans across the state," he said.

Appel said students want to pursue more education to in turn help provide the state with more services, but they face challenges with incurring debt and loans.

"Any type of engagement that students can engage in such as coming to us and telling us your story so we can put them in contact with a legislator to show how the University of Iowa truly affects the state of Iowa," he said.

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