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Senate OKs tuition freeze

BY STACEY MURRAY | APRIL 08, 2014 5:00 AM

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The Iowa Senate approved a $986 million education budget Monday, allowing the state Board of Regents’ universities to freeze some students’ tuition for the 2014-15 academic year.

If passed by the House of Representatives and signed by Gov. Terry Branstad, the budget will freeze tuition for instate undergraduate students at the University of Iowa for the second-straight year.

“This education budget opens doors to higher education, increases the number of skilled Iowa workers, and expands our middle class,” said Sen. Joe Bolkcom, D-Iowa City, in a press release.

Recently, students from the UI traveled to Des Moines to advocate for the freeze during the fourth-annual Hawkeye Caucus Day, and the issue has been a constant discussion for local legislators.

Officials including Regent President Bruce Rastetter have said the tuition freeze is a short-term solution to mounting tuition costs. Prior to the tuition freeze passed last year, tuition had been steadily increasing since 1981.

The UI is satisfied with the Legislature’s cooperation.

“We’re pleased that the legislators provided their support for this,” said Joseph Brennan, the UI vice president for Strategic Communication. “We think that’s very positive for our students.”

Additionally, the budget featured an $87 million increase. It will now move to the House of Representatives, where Rep. Kevin Koester, R-Ankeny, is confident the bill will pass.

The bill includes funding for 4 percent allowable growth for the state’s supplemental aid in K-12 districts, in what Koester called the “most important funding line item of the whole year.”

For school districts around the state, Senate File 2347 includes $50 million for teacher leadership, a mentoring system to expand teacher income as well as increase funding for teachers who provide mentoring and other support for their fellow educators.

“Teaching is a tough job, especially for beginning teachers,” Bolkcom said in an email. “This budget provides extra dollars so experienced teachers can work with new teachers as well as with teachers looking to improve their classroom results.”


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