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UISG endorses tuition freeze

BY NICK HASSETT | OCTOBER 03, 2012 6:30 AM

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The University of Iowa Student Government officially endorsed the tuition freeze proposed by UI President Sally Mason Tuesday evening, and student leaders say doing so will encourage the state Board of Regents to implement the policy sooner.

Though some senators expressed concerns during discussion, the Senate unanimously voted to support the tuition freeze, which would hold in-state tuition at the current level for the 2013-14 school year, and urged the state Legislature to approve a 2.5 percent increase in state funding for the university to help offset the cost of the tuition freeze.

UISG President Nic Pottebaum said the endorsement will be helpful to getting the tuition freeze measure approved by the regents and in getting the state legislature to pass the funding increase proposal.

“UISG’s support is instrumental in this proposal. It shows the university’s position is to keep costs low for students, and we hope the legislature will support our effort,” he said.

Sen, Jerry Gao had concerns about the repercussions in the future of freezing tuition.

“So we freeze tuition now, and what happens the next year,” he said. “Will 2014’s tuition be 7 percent higher?”

Sen. Hannah Walsh, one of the bill's sponsors, dismissed these concerns, saying she doesn't believe there would not be a significant tuition hike after the freeze.

Several senators asked why the freeze would only apply to in-state tuition.

“I’ve been studying at the university and working in Iowa City; why should I pay a higher rate just because I’m from Illinois,” senator Matt Tarnoff said.

However, Sen. Amy Hanson thinks the regents need to provide more incentives to in-state students to stay in Iowa and that out-of-state tuition is manageable.

“I had a 4.0 in high school and didn’t receive a dime to go here,” she said. “I know out-of-state students that get thousands of dollars in scholarships to help with their tuition.”

Mark Warner, the director of Student Financial Aid at the UI, said he supported a tuition freeze, because it would provide financial relief to students and families in Iowa.

Regent Robert Downer said he supports a tuition freeze as long as it is part of a sustainable program to ensure financial stability for the universities and students.

“We have to be sure that we don’t have a roller-coaster effect on tuitions,” he said.

Downer also stressed that a tuition freeze has to be balanced with maintaining the quality of the universities.

“In my view, time is much more important than money,” he said. “The worst thing to befall students is to see the institutions [they study at] deteriorate in quality and waste their time.”

Other student governments of regent schools had mixed reactions on the tuition freeze.

Jared Knight, president of Iowa State University's student government, said while their legislature hadn’t put forth a resolution supporting it, they were in support of a tuition freeze nonetheless.

“A unanimous voice from the student body is a very powerful message to send to legislators,” he said.

Yet the student government at the University of Northern Iowa hasn’t taken an official position on the freeze, and Jaime Yowler, the director of governmental relations of the NISG, said he wasn’t sure if the tuition freeze would be a good thing for UNI.

“I think a freeze might do more harm than good right now,” he said.


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