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

June 21, 2006

Regents approve $100/semester student surcharge

by Anne Krapfl

Students who attend Iowa State full time in the coming academic year will pay a $100 per semester energy/environment surcharge to help the university cover cost increases in utilities, building operations and library acquisitions --- items that contribute to a learning environment. The Board of Regents, State of Iowa, unanimously approved the surcharge during a special meeting on campus June 20.

The regent universities developed the surcharge proposal in response to FY07 state appropriations that, for Iowa State, will include just $4.4 million in new recurring funds for operating expenses. About $22.6 million in state support to ISU will be one-time funds or funds with restricted uses -- such as new building planning or economic development efforts.

The surcharge is expected to bring in an estimated $4.33 million for Iowa State for the 2006-07 budget year. The largest portion of it, about $2.96 million, will pay for fuel and utility cost increases next year. Other key uses include opening new buildings ($606,000), meeting rising costs of library acquisitions ($500,000) and helping to cover compensation increases mandated for Merit staff ($170,000). The surcharge will be prorated for part-time students. It will be charged to on-campus students only; off-campus students enrolled in distance education programs will not pay it.

The surcharge is a temporary, one-year proposal. It's not considered tuition, but rather an energy/environment surcharge. To put the surcharge proposal in perspective, tuition for resident undergraduates is going up $113 per semester next year.

Student Johnathan Gajdos, a member of the University of Iowa's Graduate Student Senate, asked the regents to treat the surcharge like a tuition increase and require the universities to set aside at least 15 percent of the additional revenue for financial aid. The regents did not include this idea in their final proposal.

Hold energy costs down

In tandem with the surcharge for students, the universities have pledged to work together, involving students, faculty and staff, to identify ways to reduce energy consumption. Additionally, the regents will make no requests for state funding for campus buildings for three years. The moratorium on new building funds excludes:

  • Projects already receiving some state dollars (such as Gilman Hall)
  • Projects resulting from economic development initiatives
  • Projects for which significant private funds already are in place (such as a new building for the department of agriculture and biosystems engineering)

Undergraduate student leaders who addressed the board pledged to find ways to involve their respective student bodies in energy-saving efforts. Board president Michael Gartner said the universities, including student leaders, will be asked for periodic updates during the year on their energy-saving efforts and results.

Program changes

In other business, the regents approved Iowa State's requests to:

  • Establish the Iowa Center for Advanced Neurotoxicology in the College of Veterinary Medicine to study (animal and human) neurotoxicology and neurodegeneration. This new area of toxicology is the result of emerging issues such as chemical terrorism, food contamination and environmental links to neurodegenerative disorders. Research grants totaling more than $865,000 from the National Institutes of Health will help fund the center. Faculty from five Vet Med departments will collaborate in the center.
  • Establish the Nutrition and Wellness Research Center (jointly administered by the College of Human Sciences and the vice provost for research office). Researchers will link food research to consumer health and chronic disease prevention. A $700,000 grant from the Iowa Department of Economic Development, through the Biosciences Alliance, will fund start-up costs.
  • Change the name of the M.S./Ph.D. in industrial education and technology to industrial and agricultural technology (to reflect changes made to the program following the July 2004 merger of the departments of industrial education and technology and ag and biosystems engineering).
  • Discontinue the B.S. in studies in family and consumer sciences (degree actually discontinued in 1999; last student graduated in 2001-02).
  • Discontinue the secondary (undergraduate) major in pest management due to lack of student enrollment.

Honorary degrees

The regents also approved Iowa State's requests to award honorary degrees to former governor Robert Ray for his leadership and public service, and R. Byron Bird, professor emeritus of chemical and biological engineering at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, for contributions in his field. Ray will be honored at the undergraduate commencement ceremony this December and Bird in May 2007.


A surcharge approved June 20 by the regents is a temporary, one-year proposal of $100 per semester per full-time student. It's not considered tuition, but rather an energy/environment surcharge. To put the surcharge proposal in perspective, tuition for resident undergraduates is going up $113 per semester next year.