Regents approve budget, consider tuition hike


Matthew Rezab/Iowa State Daily

From left, UNI President Bill Ruud, Board of Regents President Bruce Rastetter and ISU President Steven Leath take questions from the media in the Scheman Building during the Board of Regents meeting on June 4. 

Matthew Rezab

The Iowa Board of Regents unanimously approved the proposed $5.47 billion fiscal year 2016 budget for Iowa’s regent universities Wednesday.

Iowa State’s $1.4 billion budget for FY2016 represents an almost $75 million, or 1.05 percent, increase from FY2015. Much of the increase is because of higher tuition revenue due to increased enrollment and a record setting jump in external funding from $368 million in FY2015 to $424.9 million this year.

The day-to-day operating budget at Iowa State also increased $16.6 million to a total of $601.2 million.

ISU President Steven Leath said another year of rising enrollment forced the school to make some tough allocation decisions. He said the budget is designed to enhance student experience and success, expand research, promote economic development and ensure a welcoming and safe campus.

“We didn’t change or enhance our recruiting effort this year and we were surprised that we’re going to have another record year of growth and another record year of enrollment,” Leath said.

Board of Regents President Bruce Rastetter said ISU tuition fees will not cover the increased cost to the university.

“The reason it isn’t keeping up with the cost is because a number of those students are in-state students. Their tuition does not pay the cost of the education without state appropriations alongside it.”

Tuition Increase

A 3 percent [$100] tuition increase has also been proposed for the spring 2016 semester. The board discussed details Wednesday and will vote on the proposal at the Sept. 9 meeting.

The increase was proposed after Gov. Terry Branstad used his line-item veto to cut funding allocated by the General Assembly to offset the costs of a tuition freeze for a third consecutive year.

“I think the board’s goal is to maintain the lowest tuition increase we can have and still maintain the quality and improvement of programs at the three universities,” Rastetter said.

The board originally asked legislators for a 1.75 percent base increase in funding. After a drawn out battle at the State House, a 1.25 percent increase and just more than $6.2 million in one-time funding for all three universities.

If approved, spring tuition at Iowa State would rise to $3,424. The 3 percent increase was factored into the budgets approved Wednesday. The $100 increase would amount to about $3.5 million in new revenue for regent universities.

“We believe and the three universities recommended that increase, which is what’s on our docket,” Rastetter said. “We believe that will be sufficient … to maintain the quality of education, which is ultimately the most important aspect. We believe that nominal increase will do both.”