Newly proposed tuition increases affecting several fields of study



Jake Dalbey

UPDATE 2:14 p.m.: A similar email regarding tuition increases was also sent to students within the department of food science and human nutrition. The increase is the same structure as the details previously noted within the agronomy, global resource systems and horticulture departments. Students are encouraged to attend an open forum on April 4 to discuss the upcoming changes.

ORIGINAL: Agronomy, global resource systems and horticulture students received an email Thursday regarding a proposal to the Board of Regents to approve a new differential tuition structure expected to affect the upperclassmen in the aforementioned majors.

In an email received by the Iowa State Daily, the new tuition rate, if approved, “would be phased in over three years, beginning the summer of 2018. When fully implemented, juniors and seniors in those majors would pay an additional $1,600 more per academic year.”

Students within the agronomy department received the email Thursday morning signed by both Wendy Wintersteen, the dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and David Acker, associate dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

The proposal, according to the email, was submitted to the Iowa Board of Regents for approval with the hopes of the plan being discussed during the Regents’ April 19 and 20 meeting.

Students within the affected majors were asked to attend an informational meeting April 7 in order to hear why the plan was developed from departmental faculty leaders.

Along with the currently highlighted majors, animal sciences, biology, computer sciences, industrial design and natural resources ecology are among the most recent departments to receive differential tuition increases.

Dustin Ehret, a junior in agronomy, became of aware of the changes after receiving the email from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences only to think it was university spam.

Alarmed by the sudden increase, given the close proximity to the October tuition changes, Ehret contacted his friends in order to spread awareness about the raises.

“I was shocked by the amount of money they were requesting, so I reached out hoping to get support from friends in my major,”Ehret said.”We could then go to the meeting and talk with some people about why this was happening.”

Despite the large sum of money, Ehret largest concern for the foreseeable future is a lack of transparency on behalf of Iowa State.

“Since they are doing these increases in groupings to me it feels as though they are trying to get the smallest group of people mad at once,”Ehret said.”If I hadn’t talked to people about the email they probably wouldn’t have had any idea what was going on.”

Ehret believes that a large scale tuition increase affecting all majors would have enough push back by both the general public and Regents to not pass. Therefore he described the process now as “poking groups and creating a bleed effect”, one that will eventually make it’s way to more majors than just hard sciences.

“They believe the student to teacher ratio is too large…the requirements needed to get into Iowa State need to be raised because we can’t handle this many students,”Ehret said.”Juniors and seniors should not be punished for staying in school, especially when you look at the percentage of sophomores and juniors who don’t end up completing their degree.”

Due to the reasonings for a tuition increase being “too general” in Ehret’s eyes, he feels the University has the groundwork to implement these changes to any major they see fit. This raises a concern about where the money would ultimately be spent, as Ehret would like the money to be kept within the major being affected. 

“I don’t believe this will enhance a student’s learning here,”Ehret said.”The thing that concerns me is the “student resources” that were cited. To me this means a building fund because I know ISU has already shown plans for the new student center.”

Iowa State Student Government President Cole Staudt expressed concern for the differential tuition increase model during the December regents meeting.

“The last thing we want is for students to not pursue the career they want because it costs more than other programs,” Staudt said.

At the time, Staudt said he found it very troubling that the regents had been reached out saying the model wasn’t going to work, yet continued anyway.

“I’m not sure what their reasoning is,” Staudt said. “They never gave me an explanation as to why they voted the way they did.”

In December, the regents also approved a 2 percent rise in resident undergraduate tuition rates at all three regent universities. Non-resident student tuition rose 3 percent as well.