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Evans: Rollback on tuition set-aside

BY BENJAMIN EVANS | SEPTEMBER 13, 2012 6:30 AM

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Rollback, time.

Yes, all you happy campers, it’s time to gather around and be transported back to the near-to-recent past (and present) when a handful of privileged students were (are) benefiting from the majority of hardworking students not on scholarships.

No, I’m not talking about Marxism — I’m talking about state Board of Regents-controlled tuition set-aside.

On Wednesday, the regents sat down to hear the assessment from the Regents’ Student Financial Aid Committee regarding, among other things, tuition set-aside.

For those of you who need a recap, tuition set-aside is a fancy name for a large number of students getting screwed with their pants on. For a certain number of students receiving both need- and non-need-based scholarships, a certain amount of aid is taken directly from other students’ tuition.

The board initially passed tuition set-aside in September 2004, requiring the three state regent universities to set aside a minimum of 15 percent of gross tuition to go to need- and merit-based financial aid for students, as reported by The Daily Iowan.

An average of approximately 20 percent of all tuition paid in 2011 at the University of Iowa went toward scholarships — both merit and need-based, from both residents and nonresidents, according to a report released by the regents’ office.

Yes, yes, I know: 20 percent seems unreasonably high. And what are students, some of who are taking out loans to pay for college, doing paying for other students to get free rides?

It all seems like too much to bear.

But don’t worry, though — the learning curve on the regents may be about five years, but they still found the light and decided to correct this wrong.

At their June meeting, the regents created the Student Financial Aid Committee “to provide as comprehensive an analysis as possible about tuition set-aside, alternative funding sources for student financial aid, and policy implications,” as stated in Wednesday’s report from the regents’ office.

And the report laid out a five-year plan to roll back the tuition set-aside program and replace it with none other than increased private funding from each regent university’s foundation and other fundraising campaigns.

Yes, it looks like the UI Foundation will play an even bigger role in the financial lives of students of the university. I don’t know about ISU or UNI, but the UI is set.

We all remember the UI Foundation from headlines detailing UIHC doctors asking their patients for money and UI lecturer Ken Mason drawing a salary from the Foundation for his fundraising responsibilities.

I, personally, feel like this is a great idea. I feel safe and secure — I know I’m going to get screwed for the next year or so, but those of you who want to be super seniors (fingers crossed) when you grow up will totally benefit from this plan.

Anyways, wait for an update about the final report coming to you in late October.


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