Letter: Vote for tuition freeze, cheaper loans

I am proud to call Ames my home. Growing up on a family farm in eastern Iowa I learned the values of hard work, determination and cooperation. I have lived in Ames since 1996 when I enrolled at Iowa State. During the past 18 years, I have been active in our community, most recently serving from 2010 to 2013 as the Ward 3 representative on the Ames City Council. As a member of the City Council, I supported efforts to expand the ISU Research Park, encouraged private sector job growth in Ames and advocated for strong partnerships between Iowa State and the city.    

I am a proud graduate of Iowa State. Like many of you, I relied on scholarships, grants and student loans to pay for my college education. I know firsthand what it feels like to graduate with a significant amount of student loan debt.  

For the past two academic years, in-state undergraduate students at Iowa State have benefited from a tuition freeze. As your next state senator, I will support a third consecutive year of tuition freezes at Iowa’s three state universities. To achieve this will require a bold, transformational solution when the Iowa Legislature convenes in January. 

It is easy to say, “Let’s restore the funding reduced by the state of Iowa during the economic downturns of the past decade.” Simply throwing more money at an outdated base-plus funding model is neither strategic nor beneficial to students at Iowa’s public universities. I embrace and will fight for the performance-based model approved by the Iowa Board of Regents which promotes access, retention and student success. 

More specifically, this model directs 60 percent of the regents’ university funding to be allocated based upon in-state student enrollment at each of the three state universities. This makes the funding model responsive to Iowa taxpayers. Additionally this model will hold the universities accountable by recognizing student credit-hour progress and graduation. This encourages access to low-income, minority and community college transfer students along with veterans; provides for direct allocation to support sponsored research that will lead to economic development; and enhance support for graduate and professional programs.      

I will support efforts to make the cost of textbooks fully deductible for Iowa income tax filers, and I am also am a proponent of full deductibility of student loan interest payments on Iowa income tax returns.  

These efforts, in conjunction with the Transparency Inclusive Efficiency Review currently underway at the three state universities, will help to make the cost of an education at Iowa State more affordable. Through this well-thought-out approach to higher education funding, I believe the student loan burden felt by ISU students will be reduced.

I love Iowa State and will continue to be an advocate for our university and our community. Going forward, we must do things better. If you believe the leadership in the Iowa General Assembly can and should be doing better, then I promise you I will work diligently as your state senator to make that vision a reality. I look forward to the opportunity to serve you in the State Senate.  

Please exercise your right to vote Nov. 4.  

Jeremy Davis, candidate for Iowa Senate District 23