Iowa State student leaders address legislators, say higher ed funding needs to be prioritized


Photo courtesy of Student Government

Student Government Senior Director of Governmental Affairs Kody Olson and Vice President Cody Smith address legislators about higher education funding on Feb. 19, 2018.

Alex Connor

Iowa State Student Government representatives voiced concerns at the statehouse Monday, asking legislators to make higher education a priority. 

“We are asking for your support of higher education in our state; it is an investment in the future we want for generations to come, it is an investment in Iowa,” Vice President Cody Smith said. 

Smith, as well as Senior Director of Governmental Relations Kody Olson, spoke out against the proposed budget cuts in front of the appropriations committee. 

“Regrettably, public higher education in Iowa is ensnared in a dangerous and unsustainable cycle,” Smith said. “The Legislature cuts funding, forcing the university to propose tuition increases to the Board of Regents, which will, inevitably and by no fault of their own, place this immense burden on the backs of students and their families.”

Announced in early January, Iowa State has the potential of facing midyear cuts, in addition to lagging state funding in recent years.

Currently, Gov. Kim Reynolds is recommending a midyear reduction of $5.1 million to Iowa Board of Regents budget. The House and Senate, who shape the legislation that ultimately decides the budget, is proposing a $8.1 million and $14.1 million reduction, respectively. 

Olson said if cuts like these are implemented, which are later followed by tuition increase — there could be generational impacts.

“Looking back, I don’t know that I would’ve made it if school had cost even a few more hundred dollars,” he said. 

Olson continued “I had a sick feeling in my stomach when the Iowa Senate announced $14.5 million in appropriations to the regent universities.”

On Friday, Student Government released a petition asking the statehouse “invest in us.” As of Monday night, it had 387 signatures.

“It seems to me that our state has reached a critical turning point when it comes to public higher education,” Smith said. 

In a plea to the legislators, Olson said in a prepared statement he is worried his sister may not be able to be an Iowa State student if tuition continues to increase.

“But can she afford to be a Cyclone? We grew up below the poverty line and I had to pave my own way through college,” he said. “I was fortunate to receive scholarships and financial aid from state and federal programs.

“Even so, there was never a semester without worrying about having enough money to pay my housing bill or get the books I needed for school.”