Feb. 10, 2011

Five percent tuition hike request goes to regents; decision expected in March

by Anne Krapfl

The state Board of Regents expressed little reaction to a proposal that would increase Iowa State tuition for Iowa residents (undergraduates and graduates) 5 percent and nonresident students 3.5 percent next year. That translates to a tuition increase of $306 and $356 for resident undergraduates and graduates, respectively, and $612 and $644 for nonresident undergraduates and graduate students. The board met Feb. 3 in Iowa City; a tuition decision is expected at the March 23 meeting in Ames.

A proposed $183 increase in mandatory student fees -- approximately 20 percent -- largely reflects the opening of the new recreation facility this fall and the beginning of debt payments on $52 million in bonds. The student recreation fee would rise from $133.30 per year to $321.60 per year. As proposed, total mandatory fees would increase to $1,078 annually for most students.

Combined, proposed tuition and fees would rise about 7 percent for resident students and 4.3 percent for nonresident students. A resident undergraduate would pay $7,485 for the year; a resident graduate student would pay $8,507.

During his comments to board members, president Gregory Geoffroy said that if approved, the new tuition rates could generate about $11 million in new revenue to help cover negotiated cost increases for union contract-covered employees; incremental annual increases in utilities, insurance and employee health care; and faculty positions so class sizes can stay smaller and more courses can be offered. But he noted that cuts to Iowa State in Gov. Terry Branstad's proposed budget would total about $16.7 million.

Pointing to record enrollment levels the past few falls, Geoffroy said that tuition increases -- 6 percent for this year and 4.2 percent last year -- didn't deter students from attending Iowa State.

Geoffroy also said his office staff asked universities in neighboring states -- Illinois, Kansas, Nebraska, Wisconsin -- about their tuition plans for 2011-12. The range they provided, he said, is 4 to 7 percent, with an average of "about 6 percent."

"The 5 percent we're asking for is not out of line with what's happening in our neighboring states," he said.

Government of the Student Body president Luke Roling told board members he's sympathetic to the state funding cuts Iowa State has absorbed in the last three years, but he couldn't support a 5 percent tuition increase.

"If you approve it, I ask you to reconsider the allocation of financial aid so that those who need it most, get it," he said.

The board uses the projected Higher Education Price Index (HEPI) as a guideline in reviewing proposed tuition increases -- but it is not required to approve increases within the range. The HEPI forecast for FY12 is 2.2 percent to 4.0 percent, with a median of 3.1 percent.

Board president David Miles said that state appropriations to the three public universities is down 24 percent since 2001, and that less than a quarter of those cuts were made up through tuition increases.

"The magnitude of these cuts made it impossible to hold students harmless," he said. "You can only do 'more with less' for so long before quality is compromised.

"Even if we approve this [tuition increase], we are asking the regent universities to do more with less," Miles said.

Differential tuition

Regent Michael Gartner noted that a growing request list for differential tuition from all three regent universities bumps the proposed increase much higher for some students.

"I'm not saying it's good or bad; I just want to point that out," he said.

Differential tuition channels additional dollars into specific programs to boost quality through considerations such as smaller class sizes, cutting-edge research opportunities or additional leadership opportunities for students.

Iowa State has three differential tuition requests for next year:

  • Juniors and seniors in both the agricultural systems technology and industrial technology majors, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, would pay a proposed $584 extra next fall, the first of three annual increments.
  • In the third and final year of a request, juniors and seniors in the College of Business would pay an additional $500 above their peers in other colleges.
  • Business graduate students would pay an additional $1,600 next year to make up the difference between undergraduate and graduate tuitions in the college as a result of the undergraduate differential tuition.

Following four years of differential increases (2006-07 through 2009-10), juniors and seniors in the College of Engineering continue to pay about $2,000 more annually in differential tuition.

Other student fees

In a change to the timeline, the universities were required to present their proposals for changes to the former "miscellaneous" student fees (those not related to tuition) at the same time as tuition and mandatory fee proposals. Fees also have been recategorized as either academic or administrative. Board members requested this change last April so they have a complete picture of student fees as they set tuition rates. Previously, miscellaneous fees were discussed in the May-June timeframe.

Iowa State proposes to raise by 5 percent the per-credit-hour rate for extension/continuing education workshops and for summer courses at the Iowa Lakeside Lab field station near Spencer. It also proposes to raise the enrollment fee 5 percent for graduate students who have completed their coursework but not their thesis work.

Proposed tuition and fees

Tuition only
and fees
Iowa residents
Business upper division*$7,99012.0%$9,10712.9%
AST/IT upper division*$6,99214.6%$8,28514.9%
Engineering upper division$8,4945.0%$9,7876.4%
Business graduate*$9,07627.5%$10,14726.7%
Engineering graduate$8,6165.0%$9,9096.4%
Vet Med, years 1-3$17,4565.0%$18,5335.8%
Vet Med, year 4$25,8035.0%$26,8805.5%
Non-resident students
Business upper division*$19,8446.2%$20,9616.8%
AST/IT upper division*$18,8646.8%$20,1577.3%
Engineering upper division$20,2643.5%$21,5574.2%
Business graduate*$20,79212.1%$21,86312.5%
Engineering graduate$20,2803.5%$21,5734.2%
Vet Med, years 1-3$39,9903.1%$41,0673.5%
Vet Med, year 4$48,0393.1%$49,1163.4%

*If regents approve differential tuition requests
AST/IT: Agricultural Systems Technology and Industrial Technology majors