Regents to vote next month on tuition increase

By: - May 11, 2023 6:04 pm

Students at Iowa State University and other regents tuitions may pay more for tuition and fees next year. (Photo by Perry Beeman/Iowa Capital Dispatch)

The Iowa Board of Regents will vote next month whether to increase tuition and fees for Iowa public university students.

According to the board, the tuition increase is projected to generate $29 million in incremental revenue for fiscal year 2024 across all three institutions. No one at the meeting voiced any objection to the proposal.

The board said the increase will address inflationary cost increases, recruiting and retaining faculty and staff in national markets, meeting collective bargaining terms, deferred maintenance needs in academic facilities and student financial aid.

Based on inflation, the tuition increase is actually a decrease, Regent David Barker said. 

“Our increase in undergraduate resident tuition is 3.5%, which is well below the most recent inflation numbers which are running close to 5%,” Barker said. “We are continuing to be affordable for middle class Iowans, we’re actually in real terms, after inflation, cutting tuition, because our increase is less than the inflation rate.”

Barker also noted that Iowa personal income per capita and median household income numbers have risen at a higher rate than the tuition increase.

For the 2013-2014 academic year, average resident undergraduate tuition at the three regent institutions was $6,658. The average of the proposed tuition for the 2023-2024 academic year is $8,798. According to the interest calculator, April 2013’s tuition $6,658 inflated to April 2023 equals $8,686. 

In a statement released after Thursday’s meeting, state Sen. Herman Quirmbach, D-Ames, criticized Republicans for not including new funding for public universities in the upcoming budget. 

“State funding for higher education is now less than it was in 2016,” Quirmbach said. “Our Regents universities are starved for support – and Iowa students and their families are paying the price.”

The board requested $32 million more for fiscal year 2024 than it received in fiscal year 2023 from the state Legislature. The Legislature did not fulfill the requested increase for general appropriations. 

The Legislature did allocate $7.1 million in special purpose funding amongst the three regent institutions. The University of Iowa College of Nursing was allocated $2.8 million, Iowa State was allocated $2.8 million for STEM workforce initiatives and University of Northern Iowa was allocated $1.5 million for teacher student recruitment efforts. 

The resident undergraduate tuition increase of 3.5% would increase University of Iowa tuition by $305, Iowa State University tuition by $304 and University of Northern Iowa tuition by $285. 

Resident undergraduate students saw an increase of 4.25% in fiscal year 2023, $355 for University of Iowa, $354 for Iowa State University and $331 for University of Northern Iowa. 

Graduating Iowa State University senior Carter Diorio said the proposed changes would not play a big role in college selection if he were continuing his education or picking Iowa State as a new student.

“It’s probably gone up by that amount the past three years I’ve been here, so it probably wouldn’t change anything for me if I was still here or looking at the school,” Diorio said. “Having to raise tuition, especially if you’re trying to keep faculty from going to other jobs, makes sense to me.”

Brandon Alpern, a junior at Iowa State, also is not deterred from the Iowa public universities based on the proposed increases.

 “If you told me it was 20%, maybe I would care, but a 4% increase is a good way to up the tuition,” Alpern said. “If someone is going to stop going to a degree for $300 dollars, that’s not going to sway anyone, so I think it’s a good increase. I don’t think it will affect enrollment or anything like that, no, it seems too marginal.”

Various mandatory fees are proposed to increase as well. University of Iowa students may see the biggest increase of 18.6%, from $1,642 in the 2022-2023 academic year to $1,948 in the 2023-2024 academic year. The main cause of this increase is a new fee of $240 to fund renovations to the Iowa Memorial Union. 

Separate from mandatory fees, some program specific fees across the three institutions are seeing proposed increases, such as admission fees, technology fees and continuing education fees. Many changes would increase at the same rate as tuition.

Regents will vote on the increases during the June 13-14 meeting in Iowa City, where student leaders are expected to be in attendance. 

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Jay Waagmeester
Jay Waagmeester

Jay is a former Iowa Capital Dispatch intern. Jay is based in Ames and is currently a senior majoring in journalism and marketing at Iowa State University. He has interned at New Century Press and contributed to the Iowa State Daily.