Student fee increase to fund additional health services


Christopher Gannon

Thielen Student Health Center.

As part of the Iowa Board of Regents approved tuition increase, student fees have increased in part to improve student health center capabilities, technology modernization and public transportation. The student health center will receive $12 of this fee.

Regent tuition increase

In July, the Iowa Board of Regents approved a tuition increase of 4.25% for the 2022-2023 academic year at Iowa State University, the University of Northern Iowa and the University of Iowa. Part of that tuition increase includes increased student fees to cover mental health services, technology modernization and public transportation.

Iowa State University saw the highest increase in student fees at $145. Compared to students at the University of Iowa, who will pay an increase of $56, and the University of Northern Iowa, who will pay an increase of $27 in student fees, according to an article published by Iowa Capital Dispatch

The University of Iowa and the University of Nothern Iowa pay a total of $142.50 and $149.25 respectively in student fees. 

The process for a fee increase involves the university’s Student Fee Committee making a recommendation to Senior Leaders. The Senior Leaders then present to the Board of Regents to discuss and vote on.

According to the Student Health Center’s website, the center receives no funding from the state of Iowa and relies on the health fee for roughly 50% of its budget. Part of this funding supports the Student Counseling Services at the health center.

“We are thankful for the strategic incorporation of SCS into the overall student health fee and student advocacy to support mental health services,” Kristen Sievert, director of Student Counseling Services, said.

The remainder of the operating budget comes from charges from provided medical services.

Thielen Student Health Center is part of the Student Health and Wellness unit that includes Recreation Services, Student Counseling Services and Student Wellness.

Improvements to come

Despite decreased enrollment at the university, utilization of the health center has increased by more than 24%. Along with increased usage, the health center is facing inflation regarding the costs of medications and medical supplies.

“Student feedback is clear that health and wellness services are a priority, which prompted the evaluation and recommendation of a fee increase,” Student Health and Wellness Director Erin Baldwin said.

Baldwin said the fee increase would be dedicated to upkeep the current level of services offered by the health center. New addition coming to the health center is a full-time psychologist for the Student Counseling Services.

The health fee increase was $12 and a portion of that fee is to fund a psychologist for the Student Counseling Services that was previously funded by Student Government. The psychologist will be housed in Student Counseling Services.

In the upcoming academic year, Thielen Student Health Center has goals to address certain trends in student health recognized in the previous year’s National College Health Assessment (NCHA).

The National College Health Assessment is a nationally recognized research survey that can assist universities in collecting data about students’ health habits, behaviors and perceptions. A detailed breakdown of survey responses across a multitude of universities can be accessed on their website.

Part of the health center’s plan for the upcoming years is to have a specific focus on mental health, sleep, substance use, violence and personal safety, food security and basic needs and sexual health.

Student discuss dissatisfaction

Some students have criticisms towards Thielen Student Health Center.

“Personally, I think they need to better the current services provided at Thielen,” junior Sam Belden said.

Belden said she had used the health center for physical health reasons and had a dissatisfying experience. She went into hives from an allergic reaction and did not get an answer to her concerns.

“They told me they ‘weren’t sure’ why that happened and then gave me the allergy pills I was already taking,” Belden said.

Other students have criticized the health center’s lack of public notice of the fee increase.

“I was not aware of the price increase,” Zachary Anderson, a sophomore in civil engineering, said.

Approved fee increases are posted to the registrar’s office website without a formal announcement. More information regarding fee breakdowns can be found on their website.

“There is no plan at this time to send an additional announcement,” Deanna Sargent, communications and marketing manager, said.

The year’s fee increase is intended to address needs for the next several years. The health center also worked to implement plans to increase efficiency and control costs. Some of these plans work to control the expansion of revenue-generating services.

“Thielen Student Health Center is highly sensitive to the impact of student fees, and we work hard to keep fee increases as minimal as possible,” Baldwin said.

The health center will work with the Health and Wellness student leadership board to receive student feedback regarding current and upcoming changes.

“I think the benefits (of the fee increase) can be astronomical; mental health is incredibly important,” Belden said. “I really hope this works out for Thielen, as their other services have been less than impressive.”

Editor’s note: This article has been updated to clarify the student fee funding allocations for Thielen Student Health Center.