Regents discuss tuition freeze


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University of Iowa students may not see their tuition go up for another year.

At the state Board of Regents meeting on Wednesday, President Bruce Rastetter stated the regents will meet today with the Legislative Fiscal Committee to request a 4 percent funding increase for fiscal 2015 that would allow the regent universities to freeze tuition for a second year in a row for the first time since 1975.

Rastetter emphasized that college affordability would continue to be a high priority for the board.

“[It is] a joint responsibility — a responsibility between the Board of Regents, the Legislature, and the institution,” he said.

The requested 4 percent increase — which amounts to about $19.6 million — consists of much more than simply maintaining the freeze.

“We also propose that part of that 4 percent will go to on-time graduation and funding for the universities to ensure that we actually continue to address the issue of student debt and affordability,” he said.

Last year, the regents asked for a 2.6 percent increase in funding, which allowed for a freeze in tuition that began this past summer.

Rastetter said he is looking forward to presenting the proposal to the committee and thanking the legislators for their partnership with the regents and its institutions.

This tuition freeze is absolutely dependent on the 4 percent increase in funding, Rastetter said. However, Chip Baltimore, R-Boone, expressed other thoughts in an email.

“I am fully supportive of a tuition freeze for the second year in a row,” Baltimore said. “However, I have not yet seen sufficient data to determine whether a 4 percent increase is necessary to accomplish this.”

Baltimore said that aside from funding from taxpayers and from tuition, the regents must ensure they are controlling expenses if they want to see an extension of the freeze.

Rep. Dave Jacoby, D-Coralville, said the freeze is necessary because college costs are so high, and the regents have the means to implement it.

“Costs have increased past the rate of health care and certainly beyond the average income,” he wrote in an email. “A 4 percent increase partnered with measures to streamline our regents system [efficiencies] is more than doable.”

President Sally Mason supports the tuition freeze, and she said she has been since conversations with the regents began.

“I think it’s really a very positive thing for students and their families to be able to plan,” she said. “Given the tough economic times that we’ve all come through, I know there’s still a lot of families out there who struggle with finances and trying to make decisions on what they can and what they can’t afford.”

She also noted that the freeze hits home for her personally.

“For me, as a first-generation college student, I’ve said this over and over again: If it hadn’t been for high quality public higher education here in the United States, I wouldn’t be where I am today,” she said. “I want to see every student have that opportunity.”

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