Making ends meet

BY BEN MARKS | AUGUST 06, 2015 5:00 AM

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During their telephonic meeting, the state Board of Regents considered a midyear tuition hike for in-state undergraduates at the state’s three public universities and approved pay raises for two university presidents.

On Wednesday, the regents considered the possibility of a midyear tuition hike in the spring of 2016, which would be the first time tuition has risen in three years.

Patrice Sayre, the regents’ chief business officer, said Iowa is in a unique position as a state that sets its tuition quite early.

“Most states wait to see what the Legislature has put for them for appropriations and don’t revisit tuition," she said.

Typically, the regents approve tuition rates in the winter. However, she said, given the lack of funding from the state, they are now reconsidering the spring 2016 tuition rates.

At the end of June, the Iowa Legislature only approved $6.5 million in funding of the $21.7 million the regents had requested.

The tuition hike would be 3 percent of base tuition, or roughly $100 per student.

Sayre said, the hike would only affect resident, undergraduate students.

None of the regents opposed the increase; the official vote will occur in September.

“We are looking to improve the budget status of our universities so they can sustain quality teaching and a learning environment,” Sayre said.

During the regents’ meeting, the three public university presidents also presented their institutions’ yearly budgets.

Approved by the regents, the University of Iowa’s fiscal 2017 budget is $3.7 billion. Iowa State’s is $1.4 billion, and the University of Northern Iowa’s is $346 million.

ISU and UNI both received increases to their base funding, $1.2 million and $1.1 million, respectively. The UI received no such increase.

During his presentation, UNI President William Ruud discussed the difficulties of operating a budget with the shortfall presented by the Legislature.

Depsite the funding increases, Ruud said, UNI began the year with $1.4 million deficit and had to rearrange funds to make up for it.

“We have our funding challenges,” he said.

On Wednesday, Regent President Bruce Rastetter said he would continue to advocate to Iowa lawmakers about the need for a performance-based funding model, like the kind the regents pushed last summer in order to increase resident enrollment to cover university costs.

Along with the fiscal 2017 budgets, the regents also approved salary increases for Ruud and Iowa State University President Steven Leath.

Ruud received a 2.5 percent pay increase, taking his base salary from $348,400 to $357,110, and Leath received a 5 percent increase, taking his salary from $500,000 to $525,000.

Ruud will receive a two-year deferred compensation plan worth $75,000, and Leath will receive a five-year plan of $125,000.

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