In-state tuition freeze passes Iowa regents with no discussion


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Following months of discussion, support, and even some disproval, the state Board of Regents officially passed the tuition freeze for undergraduate resident students in a unanimous decision for the 2013-14 academic year without discussion.

“We felt it was important this year after a number of years of what we call moderate increases that we work to freeze tuition for in-state students,” Regent President Craig Lang said.

This freeze will keep tuition levels for the 2013-14 academic year consistent with the current academic year. This freeze will be effective starting in the summer session at the three regent universities.

The freeze, however, hinges on whether legislators decide to approve a $40 million appropriation request from the regents to supplement the tuition revenue lost.

Base tuition will sit at $6,678 and with mandatory fees will be $8,061.

Nonresidents will see a 2.6 percent increase in base tuition at the UI, and graduate student tuition will increase 2.6 percent for both residents and nonresidents.

While the tuition freeze received support from various organizations, including the Executive Council of Graduate and Professional Students, the UI Student Government, the Staff Council, and the three regent university presidents, it hit a roadblock during the Oct. 25 meeting from the University of Northern Iowa Student Government.

“Many of the students who were talked to by the senators saw the potential future damages and uncertainties as not worth the momentary short term from the ever increasing tuition burden students face every year,” said UNI Student Government President Jordan Bancroft-Smithe at the October meeting.

UNI faces unique challenges with a tuition freeze. While the UI and Iowa State University enrollment continues to grow, UNI faced a 6.8 percent drop in enrollment this fall.

Smithe said the students at the UNI couldn’t support the freeze.

“Supporting such uncertainty would be nothing short of a gamble,” he said.

At the same October meeting, Michael Appel, the president of the UI Executive Council, advised the regents to keep Iowa’s professional and graduate students in mind during the discussion for tuition.

“I commend the board for keeping tuition affordable for Iowa’s professional and graduate students,” Appel said. “I think the board needs to come up with a strategic plan to ensure that the state values the impact that graduate and professional students have.”

The regents proposed the first idea of a tuition freeze at their Sept. 12 meeting. They worked with UI President Sally Mason on the proposal.

The last tuition freeze took place in 1981, but that followed an 16.3 percent increase. The year after the freeze, tuition rose by 11.5 percent.

Despite concerns sparked by the past trends, Lang said he remains confident in the board’s ability to keep tuition affordable in the future.

“Our promise, unless some extraordinary disaster happens, is that we are going to always work to keep tuition increases at or below inflation,” Lang said.

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