Iowa state Board of Regents proposes 2013-14 tuition freeze


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AMES — The state Board of Regents on Wednesday called on the presidents from Iowa’s three regent universities to freeze undergraduate resident tuition for the 2013-14 academic year.

Although the tuition rates won’t be discussed until the regents’ October meeting, Regent President Craig Lang said the tuition freeze would send a message that Iowa is committed to its students. Lang asked university officials to take the cut in tuition revenue in order to invest in Iowa’s in-state students.

University of Iowa President Sally Mason said she has worked closely on the possibility of a tuition freeze and is hopeful for the outcome.

“I hope it sends a real positive message to families,” she said.  “When the state continues to support the regent institutions, we can at least hold the tuition level.”

The regents approved new appropriation requests to ask legislators for a bump in state funding by approximately 2.6 percent in order to roughly match inflation rates.  The board will also ask for an additional $4 million in state funding for the University of Northern Iowa in order to prevent a tuition increase for the university.

Record enrollments at both the UI and Iowa State University this year should help ease the struggle to freeze the tuition, regents said. The UI reached 31,498 total students enrolled, and ISU has reached 31,040 total students.

The regents said they want to see their investment take the form of a tuition freeze for resident undergraduate students at the regent universities — something that hasn’t happened as far as the board members can remember.

“It certainly wasn’t frozen when my kids went to college,” Lang said.  “It has been a long time.”

While the UI is hopeful about achieving the tuition freeze, other regent universities — such as the relatively small UNI — may face more obstacles.  UNI’s total enrollment for fall 2012 was 12,273, a decrease from last year, according to the university’s website.

But despite UNI’s lower enrollment numbers, UNI President Ben Allen said he feels confident in the school’s ability to prevent a tuition increase alongside UI and ISU.

Regents David Miles and Lang emphasized that Iowa taxpayers want to see their taxes follow the students from Iowa who attend public universities and demonstrate need.

The potential freeze would keep the tuition at the same rate in-state students paid during the 2012-13 academic year — which was $8,057 for in-state undergraduates’ tuition and fees, according to the UI’s Office of Financial Aid.

Officials said they hope the freeze would not only benefit students financially, but also encourage in-state students to choose a regent option for their higher education.

“This will do two things,” said Lang. “No. 1:  Maybe it will cause a trend, and No. 2 is that it will make us very competitive with higher institutions of education across the state.”

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