The Iowa Board of Regents will consider a resolution during its October meeting regarding a proposed conditional tuition and mandatory fees increase for the upcoming academic year.

While the board will not make any decisions at the meeting, action in terms of approval is expected during its next December meeting.

The tuition increases being proposed include a 2 percent increase in resident undergraduate tuition rates for each year, along with requesting a 2 percent increase in state appropriations for each year, according to regent documents.

The three regent universities, Iowa State, the University of Northern Iowa and the University of Iowa, all saw a tuition increase this summer as well.

The increases follow several years of frozen tuition and a lack of state funding appropriated for education and the schools.

A proposal, introduced at the last Board of Regents meeting, will also ask the Iowa Legislature for $656.3 million in state support, which breaks down to a $3.7 million increase for Iowa State and $4.4 million for the University of Iowa.

The board also will give the University of Northern Iowa an additional $2.5 million with its 2 percent increase, totaling $4.4 million.

Leath said at the previous meeting the 2 percent increase would help, but Iowa State is also still looking into a 2 percent increase in tuition for undergraduate students, mentioned earlier. 

“Looking at a number of factors here, and we understand that the economy is struggling in this state to some extent,” Leath said during the September meeting. “But the reality is [that] state resources are still vital to our mission.”

According to regent documents, the Institute of Economic Research projected the Higher Education Price Index, HEPI, for fiscal year 2018 to range from 1.3 percent to 3 percent, with a mean of 2 percent. The 2 percent is the amount that each university is proposing, with varying nonresident and graduate tuition rates. 

At Iowa State, nonresidents are looking at a potential 3 percent tuition increase. For all students, the mandatory fees are being proposed to increase by 5.22 percent.

"As a student, I'd like to keep as much of my money as possible, but the way they went around things made it seem like they were saying it's not a lot of money however it adds up," said Brian Brcka, junior in journalism."I can see where it can come in handy, but I already feel like I'm paying quite a bit of money, which makes me want it to be toned down a bit."

Iowa State, specifically President Steven Leath, is requesting a proposed differential tuition rate for five programs, which will put tuition at a higher rate for upper-division students in the following programs: animal science, biology, computer science, industrial design and natural resources ecology and management majors.

Resident students in architecture will pay an extra $98, and non-resident students will pay an extra $106. Business also will receive an increase that is different for resident students, $190, and non-resident students, $180. Animal science, biology, computer science, industrial design and management resources will pay $534. All three increases are the first of a three-part increase. 

"Tuition increases are never exciting, especially considering all the expenses that are seen already, and many students will make decisions on where they wish to go based on what tuitions they see initially," said Madison Burke, junior in world languages and culture.

According to regent documents, the differential rate will be implemented over a three-year period. The proposed first-year supplement for 2017-18 is $534.

More open awareness toward possible tuition increases, as well as transparency from the university, are seen as imperative in order to keep students up to speed on developments.

"It's complicated and not easy to read, so I can see if a student is coming to ISU and they look at the rates, then find that they are paying more than thought upon arrival," Burke said. "It seems a bit evasive in some ways, so as long as the university is up front and clear about the changes, then perhaps it's not a bad thing."  

Leath initially brought up the differential tuition rate during his annual address to the university, where he discussed the two-tier tuition model.

"I want to keep this in perspective; if we make all these increases, Iowa State will [still] remain most affordable,” Leath said during the address.

The two-tier tuition model would involve a lower tuition rate for freshmen and sophomores and a higher tuition rate for third- and fourth-year students.

"I'm not a huge fan of the different fees," Brcka said. "You shouldn't punish kids for studying certain things or being part of different groups."

Over the course of the last four years, Iowa State has seen a constant increase in revenue generated from tuition though these numbers coincide with a rapidly increasing enrollment, according to regent documents.  

Beginning in 2012 with revenue reaching $294 million, current numbers put tuition and fees as a $397 million revenue generator for the university. 

Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad later showed discontent for the two-tiered tuition model, however, saying that students can't afford to go to the state universities, so he doesn't want to penalize them by having a tuition for them in their junior and senior years.

According to the regent documents, "students in these programs benefit from an intensive laboratory, studio or hands-on model of instruction, which is associated with a higher cost of instruction. In addition, the costs associated with animal science education include the purchase, care, and feeding of livestock, which are significant."

Iowa State Student Body President Cole Staudt has spoken out in regard to the tuition increases in general.

“I’ve expressed my concerns multiple times to the board about the growing divide between resident and non-resident tuition, especially as state funding continues to dwindle,” Staudt said. “The burden is being put on nonresident and international students.”

International students will see a proposed $500 increase in their tuition, this being the second of a three-year plan approved that would implement a $1,500 supplemental increase. The $500 is in addition to the proposed rates for the various tuition types. 

Despite the discontent from some students, Burke sees that there can be benefits from a raised tuition. 

"In general, I can't say increases are always a bad thing considering how reasonable the tuition for Iowa State is compared to other colleges," Burke said. "Iowa State's acceptance rate is very high, and I can see how they would be faced to manage the student population and have increased expenses through increased class sizes and needing the funds for that in order to stay competitive."

The Iowa Board of Regents will take place on Wednesday, Oct. 19 at 2:30 p.m. and Thursday, Oct. 20 at 9 a.m. at the University of Northern Iowa. 

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