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Inside Iowa State, a newspaper for faculty and staff, is published by the Office of University Relations.

May 21, 2004

Differential tuition still on the table

by Anne Krapfl

Assessing different tuitions to students remains an unresolved option following discussion at the May 19 meeting of the Board of Regents, State of Iowa. Board president John Forsyth directed the three regent university presidents and provosts to "put their heads together" and report back to the board on their preferences at its August meeting.

President Gregory Geoffroy told the board Iowa State would like to keep open the option to differentiate tuition by academic program, particularly in the junior and senior years. He said Iowa State was not yet ready to make a specific recommendation. Geoffroy also said he favors charging resident undergraduate students the same base tuition. He said there is potential to differentiate for out-of-state students.

University of Iowa president David Skorton said Iowa also is interested in differentiating among programs and between lower and upper division undergraduates. University of Northern Iowa president Robert Koob said his school is not interested in differentiating by regent institution, one of the proposals offered by the board staff to begin the discussion. In such a scenario, UNI tuition likely would be lower than Iowa's or Iowa State's. Koob said he fears lower tuition at UNI would result in a perception of lower quality.

Regent Mary Ellen Becker expressed concern about differential tuition by program precluding lower-income students from venturing into higher-cost programs. Skorton noted that whenever the marketplace has jobs to offer, "students will subscribe to those programs."

The board directed regent staff to conduct several studies related to tuition policy:

  • Evaluate the accounting of tuition and tuition-related fees in the general operating vs. restricted funds. Tuition and fees aren't accounted for consistently among the regent universities. Report due March 1, 2005.
  • Conduct a survey this September of 2003-04 student financial aid awardees regarding their unmet financial aid needs. The survey tool has been developed by regent staff and approved by the board. The data will help the board set policy for tuition revenue that is "set aside" for financial aid (currently 15 percent).
  • Gather data about the funding structures of the athletic departments at the three regent universities, including general university and student fee support of the department, revenue provided by the department to its university and a comparison of each school with its peer group. The intent of the study is to look at general budget policies. This study will be done in the next 18 months.

In other business, the regents approved Iowa State's request to create a Ph.D. program in applied linguistics and technology in the English department. The program will focus on the application of linguistics technology, rather than research or theory. Funding for the program, an estimated $282,000 in the first three years, would come from reallocations in the English department. The funds are for graduate assistants and a P&S instructional developer.

The regents' next meeting will be June 15-16 at Iowa Lakeside Laboratory, Okoboji.