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Regents move for third proposed tuition freeze

BY CHRIS HIGGINS | OCTOBER 24, 2014 5:00 AM

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For some University of Iowa students, tuition may not increase after all.

At Thursday’s state Board of Regents meeting in Iowa City, Regent Larry McKibben said he would move to amend the regents’ tuition and fees proposal to include a third-consecutive tuition freeze for resident students. He would make the move at the regents’ Dec. 3 meeting, when it is due to vote on the proposal.

McKibben described the current student debt load in the state as “absolutely and unequivocally unacceptable.” Tuition prices have skyrocketed over the past 15 years as state support has fallen.

Currently, the proposal calls for a 1.74 percent increase of tuition for in-state students to $6,794, which would be a $116 rise. Increases across all three regent universities would draw an additional $14.5 million in revenue.

Regents Ruth Harkin and Bruce Rastetter said they support the idea along with UI President Sally Mason. Rastetter questioned the increase’s necessity in light of the ongoing cost-saving efficiency study of the regent universities by Deloitte Consulting.

“It really brings into my mind the question of why are we raising tuition, particularly when we have the support of the presidents and the institutions in implementing those significant savings that we’ll be talking about in early November ahead of our [December meeting],” he said.

Deloitte officials have said their efficiency proposals could save up to $80 million a year, but most would take up to several years to impose. Rastetter said universities have already begun implementing some Deloitte suggestions, which university presidents confirmed.

Tuition freezes depend on appropriations from the Iowa Legislature. Groups of Iowa House Republicans and Senate Democrats have publicly stated support for a third tuition freeze.

Rep. Dave Jacoby, D-Coralville, said he is pleased with the idea, but expressed concerns about increases for out-of-state students.

Regent and UI senior Hannah Walsh said out-of-state students should be more heavily considered in future tuition and fees discussions.

“They bring income into our state,” she said. “They bring diversity of opinion, and they are a great asset to our universities, and I really feel that we need to appreciate that more as a board.”

For nonresident undergraduates, tuition and fees would increase by 1.75 percent to $27,890, or $481 under the proposal.

Resident graduate students would pay $189 more, or $9,876, while nonresident graduates would pay $485 more, or $27,054. The increases come in at 1.95 percent and 1.83 percent, respectively.
Even with a tuition freeze, resident student fees would still increase $25 for a total of $8,220.

The regents will vote on the proposal, amended or not, on Dec. 3.

Although Mason was clear in her support for a freeze, Iowa State University President Steven Leath and University of Northern Iowa acting President Mike Licari were more skeptical, with Leath saying he felt “compelled to remind the board that access and affordability without quality is no bargain.”

Licari was particularly wary, because UNI depends much more heavily on in-state students than the UI and ISU.

“We don’t have out-of-state tuition to fall back on,” he said.


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