Regents to postpone first reading of tuition increase, proposal not expected until April

The+Iowa+State+Daily+sat+down+with+President+Wendy+Wintersteen+on+Feb.+12%2C+2018.

The Iowa State Daily sat down with President Wendy Wintersteen on Feb. 12, 2018.

Alex Connor

Missing from the Iowa Board of Regents agenda released Tuesday is an anticipated tuition increase proposal for Iowa universities that was expected by some to be introduced this February. 

Josh Lehman, Regents communications director, said via email to the Daily that because of the “considerable uncertainty about state appropriations,” both in terms of possible midyear cuts and lagging funds for fiscal year 2019, “the Board does not yet have enough information to be able to set tuition rates at the February meeting.”

Due to the delay, the Board will not hold a first reading of tuition until April with expected approval of those rates in June, Lehman said. 

In October, the Regents postponed a first reading of tuition as a way to avoid multiple tuition increases during the year. 

Board of Regents President Michael Richards said at the time, “We do not have a timetable for when we will do a first reading of tuition, but we will do it as soon as we have a proposal with which we are comfortable.”

Iowa State University President Wendy Wintersteen, in a statement to the university, said: “This is a very challenging situation. We understand the frustration this causes our students and their families who are struggling to plan and budget for their college education.

“We also recognize the angst faculty and staff may feel as they wonder how midyear budget reductions could impact them.”

As noted by Lehman and Wintersteen, midyear budget cuts by the Iowa Legislature have added to the level of uncertainty to students and families in relation to tuition and proposed increases.

The Iowa Senate proposed a bill that would reduce funding to Iowa State by $6.9 million for this fiscal year on Jan. 25. The bill has since been amended to reflect a cut of $14.6 million for all Regent universities without a stipulation of how the reductions should be divided. 

The Iowa House bill, which is still moving through committee, proposes cuts of $8.1 million to the Regents this year. 

“[The bill] leaves it to the Board of Regents to determine how those cuts would be distributed across the universities,” Wintersteen said in the release. 

Possible tuition increases have been ever present on student’s minds since August, with Interim Iowa State President Ben Allen proposing a five-year 7 percent tuition increase for all resident undergraduates to the Regents’ Tuition Task Force.

Wintersteen, in an interview with the Iowa State Daily Monday, said regarding the state budget and appropriations to the university: “We are continuing to discuss the proposals and to make plans, in general, about how we might move forward.”