Board of Regents approves third consecutive tuition freeze

Danielle Ferguson

The Iowa Board of Regents unanimously approved a third consecutive tuition freeze for resident undergraduates for the 2015-2016 school year at the Dec. 3 meeting.

“We will continue to work to improve access and affordability at Iowa’s public universities, particularly for Iowa residents,” said board president Bruce Rastetter.

Tuition was originally suggested to see an increase of 1.75 percent for Iowa undergraduates at the October meeting, but the board revisited the proposal after Regent Larry McKibben expressed concern about Iowa students’ post-graduation debt.

“Why do these students have the debt level they have?” McKibben said. “Because [tuition has] increased up until the last two years. We are going to recognize our students need assistance and we’re going to give it to them in a small manner.”

ISU nonresident undergraduate base tuition has a suggested increase of 1.75 percent, up from the original 1.2 percent, and a $4.50 increase for mandatory fees.

Regent Bob Downer said he would support the tuition freeze, though he has concerns about the effects the freeze would have on the University of Northern Iowa because more than 90 percent of the student population is Iowan, meaning the university would need more financial assistance.

Downer also mentioned the effect a three-year tuition freeze had on a California university, saying that university now must increase tuition by 5 percent every year for the next five years to compensate for the loss in revenue.

McKibben responded by saying the fact that Iowa students have the sixth highest student debt in the nation is “unacceptable.”

To freeze tuition for the next academic year, the board is asking for a 4.1 percent increase in appropriation funds from the state, which lawmakers must approve before the tuition freeze is fully set.