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UI students face another tuition hike

BY DORA GROTE | DECEMBER 09, 2011 7:20 AM

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Increasing tuition and cutting back state appropriations may affect the presence of young people in Iowa's workforce.

That's according to Regent Robert Downer, speaking during the state Board of Regents meeting on Thursday.

Some regents expressed concern that continual tuition increases will negatively affect Iowa families.

"I hope there is a recognition on part of the Legislature that by reducing our appropriations request, it may be jeopardizing the presence of young people to assume positions of employment in the Iowa economy," Downer said.

The regents voted 7-1 to increase tuition at the three regent universities for the 2012-13 academic year on Thursday.

Downer said the amount of student debt may negatively affect students' desires to live and work in Iowa following graduation.

"Although the cost of living is generally lower [in Iowa], incomes are also lower, and debt repayment is a significant payment," Downer said.

UI in-state undergraduate students will see a 3.75 percent tuition increase — $242, while out-of-state undergraduate students will see a 4.75 — percent increase — $1,130.

The increases are lower than the 5 and 6 percent tuition increases for the 2011-2012 academic year and are the lowest hikes since fiscal 1997.

Downer said he hopes the state can work out a plan to alleviate student debt.

"I do hope that as a part of our legislative endeavors during the 2012 session, we collaborate with other agencies in the state with respect to what I perceive as student debt on Iowa's work force and young people remaining in the state of Iowa as a location in which to pursue their careers," he said.

Regent Ruth Harkin — who voted abstained on the tuition-increase vote — said Iowans' income has not kept up with the rate of inflation and now is not a time for Iowa families to incur more expenses.

The three regent universities have suffered a loss of $144 million in state funding since 2009.

One local legislator said state allocations should do more for Iowa regent universities.

"The percentage of general operating funds have been made up by the increase in tuition, but the state general fund should pick them up," said Sen. Bob Dvorsky, D-Coralville.

Regent President Craig Lang approached Iowa lawmakers at a Dec. 5 budget meeting to emphasize the role universities play in the state.

"Our universities make substantial investments in a broad range of new technologies and facilities to support leading-edge research and to prepare students for successful careers in a broad spectrum of fields," Lang said in a statement. "Sufficient support for all of these functions is critical to our universities' missions."

Lang said he hopes the state will fiscally support the regent universities.

Some legislators, however, believe the universities' administration should alleviate the burden of costs from students.

Rep. Jeremy Taylor, R-Sioux City, the vice chairman of the House Education Committee, said "it just doesn't make sense" for tuition to increase following the increased salary of university officials.

The regents approved a salary increase for all three regent university presidents at an August meeting. UI President Sally Mason received a 4 percent increase.

"The years that university presidents' salary are increased, there should be no way there is a tuition increase as well," Taylor said.


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