Iowa Board of Regents approves tuition increase for state universities

By: - July 28, 2021 4:35 pm

The Old Capitol building on the University of Iowa campus in Iowa City. (Photo courtesy of University of Iowa)

Students at Iowa’s public universities will pay more this fall after the Board of Regents unanimously passed tuition increases on Wednesday. 

The regents approved a 3.5% increase in tuition for both the University of Iowa and Iowa State University’s in-state students. The University of Northern Iowa’s residential undergraduates will see a 1.5% increase. Nonresidential students at the University of Iowa will see a 1.06% increase, Iowa State University’s 3.8%, and the University of Northern Iowa’s 1.4%. 

Graduate and professional students at all three universities will also see an increase in tuition, between 1.3% and 3.85%. 

The tuition increase comes after the Iowa Legislature this year approved no budget increase for state universities on top of an $8 million cut approved in 2020.

Regents President Mike Richards said the board spent a “great deal of time and thought” when setting the new rates for the 2021-22 academic year. 

“Our regent universities have found many ways to be more efficient and have exceptionally low administrative costs compared to their peers,” he said. “Nevertheless, even with cost cutting and flat appropriations for the last two years, our costs continue to rise. We still need financial resources to provide a quality education for our students.”

Read more: Student leaders at Iowa’s public universities are disappointed and anxious about potential tuition increase

Richards said the goal of the regents is to provide affordable, accessible, high quality education and it plans to continue to offer that in the future. 

University presidents express financial concerns, needs

After the increase received approval, the three universities’ presidents gave reports to the regents about their school’s budgets for fiscal year 2022. All three voiced concerns about the financial state of higher education. 

At her first regents meeting, University of Iowa President Barbara Wilson said cost concerns remain for her university because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“We have to acknowledge that, even with the tuition increase that you’ve all just approved and we’ve very grateful for that, we’re still going to be challenged to cover inflationary costs across all we do,” she said. 

Wendy Wintersteen, Iowa State University’s president, said the lack of state investment in the past few years is contributing to the financial stress on Iowa’s public universities.

“A lack of funding has greatly increased our financial challenges,” she said. “Without competitive salaries and salary increases, Iowa State will see increased difficulty in retaining excellent faculty and talented staff members. Increasing inflation for supplies and services is also a serious concern.”

She said state funding is imperative to ensure Iowa State University remains a large part of the “economic engine” of Iowa. 

While the University of Northern Iowa saw an increase in fundraising over the 2021 fiscal year, President Mark Nook said it’s been a tough year for his university. 

“During the past year, little over a year, we’ve had a total loss of revenue and increased costs due to the response of COVID of $39.63 million,” he said. “… We’ve been able to manage that, (carefully) this year, but have made it through. Without the federal and state aid, it would’ve been an impossible task.”

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Eleanor Hildebrandt
Eleanor Hildebrandt

Eleanor Hildebrandt is a senior at the University of Iowa majoring in journalism and mass communication and global health studies, with a minor in German. She is a managing editor at the university newspaper, the Daily Iowan, and has served as an reporter intern at Iowa Capital Dispatch.