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UI Staff Council voices approval of Iowa tuition freeze

BY STACEY MURRAY | OCTOBER 11, 2012 6:30 AM

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The proposed tuition freeze has yet to meet someone it didn’t like, or rather, someone who didn’t like it.

President of the state Board of Regents Craig Lang spoke at the University of Iowa Staff Council meeting Wednesday, during which Lang spoke about hot-bed issues such as the tuition freeze and tuition set asides.  Following the meeting, several Staff Council members said they support the tuition freeze and the UI’s work with the state Board of Regents.

“I thought it was cool. He came prepared to talk about the things he knew we would want to talk about,” said Sean Thompson, a member of the staff council’s public relations committee.  “We didn’t have to press him.”

Lang proposed the tuition freeze at the Sept. 12 meeting of the regents.  With the freeze, undergraduate, in-state students attending school for fiscal 2014 would pay the same rate students currently pay.

While tuition freeze doesn’t affect the staff council in the way it would affect the students, the council remains intrigued by the idea of a tuition freeze.

“I think for me, personally, the topic of tuition freeze is interesting having been a student many years ago and now being on campus as a staff member,” Thompson said.

Lang said the tuition freeze proposition came at a time of higher enrollment, a lower projected inflation rate, and economic turnaround.

The regents will begin a two-part consideration at their Oct. 25 meeting with a final vote for the tuition freeze will take place on Dec. 5 during the fiscal appropriation request. 

During his visit, Lang maintained the regents, public universities, and people of Iowa value the education of Iowa’s youth.

“No one in Iowa can deny we’re committed to our students,” he said.

Suzanne Julich, a Staff Council member, said she personally supports a tuition freeze because of the previous raises in tuition.

“I think it has been raised so much in the last several years,. and we need to keep our young people in Iowa,” she said.

With the commitment to Iowa’s regent universities comes a confidence the Legislature will pass the requested appropriations.

“I believe that 2.5 percent along with the tuition freeze along with the 39.5 million for tuition set aside — at least two-thirds of that could be reality in this session,” Lang said.

While the tuition freeze seems ideal and not too far in the future, Thompson expressed concern about the years following the tuition freeze.  In response, Lang said the tuition freeze would still be possible even if the Legislature fails to pass the $39.5 million in appropriations.

But University of Northern Iowa might feel uneasy leading up to the legislative session.

Lang said if the Legislature fails to pass the $4 million funding to supplement UNI’s tuition revenue, the freeze could be difficult for UNI to pass.

Yet the UI’s and Iowa State University’s increases in enrollment, along with the low-inflation rate allow hope for a tuition freeze.

Despite obstacles and adversity facing the tuition freeze, council members remain hopeful for if the state legislature works with the universities and the regents.

“I think the Legislature needs to step up and provide funding for the three state universities instead of continuing to cut our funding,” Julich said.


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