Tuition freeze awaits December vote

If the state Board of Regents approves proposed 2014-15 tuition rates at its December meeting, it would mark the first time since 1975 that tuition for in-state undergraduates remains unchanged for three straight years. The board reviewed the proposed rates at its meeting Oct. 24 in Iowa City. Even if it approves the proposed rates in December, the board reserves the right to adjust tuition to state higher education funding awarded during the 2014 legislative session.

As proposed, tuition for in-state undergraduates next year again would remain at 2012-13 levels, or $6,648. Nonresident undergraduates would pay $334 (1.74 percent) more in tuition next year, or $19,534. Resident graduate students would pay $142 (1.81 percent) more, or $7,999, and nonresident graduate students would pay an additional $646 (3.2 percent), or $20,804. College of Veterinary Medicine students, resident or nonresident, would pay 4.5 percent more next year – $20,014 and $44,768, respectively.

Mandatory student fees would go up $5.80, to $1,083.40 for Iowa State undergraduates and to $1,037.40 for graduate students, in 2014-15, as proposed. That includes a $3 increase for student services and a $2.80 increase for student activities. Student fees haven't changed for Iowa State students in three years.

Government of the Student Body president Spencer Hughes told board members the tuition proposal "is very popular in Ames with our resident undergraduates," but took issue with treating nonresident undergraduates and graduate students differently. While those increases are "fairly modest," regardless of the size, it places an additional burden on them, Hughes said. He added that Iowa State should be encouraging more nonresidents to attend school here; one way to improve the school's attractiveness among out-of-state families is the price tag.

Gov. Terry Branstad, who stopped in at the meeting during a campus visit, acknowledged that some students are concerned about "being saddled with unmanageable debt at graduation." He also noted that the state's economic health relies, in part, on "a robust pipeline of skilled graduates coming out of the regent universities."

Branstad said he will wait to receive the state's December revenue estimates before he builds his FY15 state budget, including funding for higher education.

Differential proposals

Differential tuition plans are exempted from the tuition freeze. Iowa State proposed differential tuition next year for four student groups: juniors and seniors in agricultural systems technology (AST) and industrial technology (ITec), programs administered jointly by the Engineering and Agriculture and Life Sciences colleges; and undergraduate and graduate architecture students.

Proposed tuition differentials 2014-15


Dollar increase

Percent increase


AST and ITec programs, upper division












Architecture, undergraduate












Architecture, graduate













2014-15 would be the fourth and final year of a differential increase for AST and ITec upper division students, intended to lower student-to-faculty ratios and provide excellent instruction and cutting-edge lab experiences. The increase also would align tuition for these programs with other upper division students in the Engineering college. Differential tuition was phased in for upper division students in the College of Engineering (2006-07 to 2009-10) and College of Business (2009-10 to 2011-12).

The differential for architecture students also is the final in a three-year plan intended to help hire more faculty to address the program's 20 percent enrollment increase since 2007.

The board's vote on 2014-15 tuition rates is expected at its Dec. 4 meeting.

Honorary degree

Iowa State will award an honorary Doctor of Science degree to NASA astronaut and Mount Ayr native Peggy Whitson at the commencement ceremony on Dec. 21. Whitson will be recognized for her contributions to the U.S. and international space programs, and for her service to young people, particularly as a role model for young women who pursue careers in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields.

Grounds improvements at the Knoll

The board approved sidewalk and landscaping projects at the Knoll, the president's residence. The first will repair sidewalks and patios and improve outdoor lighting, at an estimated budget of $110,000. The second is a multiyear project to remove or replace plantings and trees in the five acres surrounding the Knoll (estimated $95,000 budget). Private gifts will pay for both projects.

Other business

In other business, the board approved:

  • A bond sale for about $27.5 million in utility system revenue bonds to help pay for three natural gas boilers to replace three of Iowa State's five coal-fired boilers. Campus utilities income would repay the bonds over 20 years. The board approved the three-year boiler replacement plan last December.
  • Revisions to Iowa State's 2013-14 general catalog (an online publication), including 126 course additions (primarily due to new programs) and 103 course eliminations (courses that haven't been taught in some time)