Tuition set aside, FY13 salaries are on regents agenda

Budgets for the fiscal year that begins July 1 and a discussion on the decades-old practice of setting aside tuition revenue for student financial aid are on the agenda when the state Board of Regents meets June 6 at the University of Iowa. Following committee meetings, the full board session is expected to convene around 10:45 a.m. A live audio stream will be available from the board's website.

Early look at FY13 budget

The board will approve detailed institutional budgets at its August meeting. Iowa State will provide this overview next week:

  • Revenue increases of $5.2 million (state operating appropriation) and an estimated $23.3 million (tuition)
  • Budgeted cost increases of $1.5 million (for inflationary adjustments including library acquisitions), $1.5 million (employee medical and dental benefits) and $5.4 million (student financial aid)

The largest cost increase will be for employee salaries. Iowa State will use an estimated $1.8 million next year to honor the state's contract with AFSCME (American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees) that covers merit employees. The contract calls for a 2 percent increase on July 1 and a 1 percent increase on Jan. 1, 2013. Those merit employees not at the maximum of their pay scales will receive up to a 4.5 percent step increase on the anniversary of their hire dates. The estimated average increase among ISU's merit employees next year is 4.34 percent.

Salary increases for faculty and Professional and Scientific staff will be between 0 percent and 4 percent, with the anticipated average increase at 2.5 percent. Increases above 4 percent for exceptional performance would have to be approved at the vice presidential level and, ultimately by board executive director Robert Donley.

No adjustments to the P&S pay matrix are proposed for FY13.

Tuition set aside

At the board's March 21 meeting, president Craig Lang asked for time at the June meeting for an extended discussion on tuition set aside. In Iowa, the practice of using a portion of tuition revenues for student financial aid goes back to the 1960s. Since FY03, board policy has required the three regents universities to set aside a minimum of 15 percent of tuition revenue for financial aid. In the face of state funding cuts and the resulting tuition increases, the actual practice typically has been more generous than that. In recent years, Iowa State has set aside 22 to 23 percent of tuition revenue for aid. In the current fiscal year, Iowa State has budgeted $55 million in tuition set aside for undergraduate financial aid.

Critics of the practice don't like the idea of students subsidizing other students' educations. Proponents argue the funds help assure access to a college education for students in need and help attract high-achieving students -- who may or may not have a financial need.

At the March meeting, Sandy Baum, a policy analyst with the not-for-profit College Board, told board members that between 26 and 35 percent of tuition set-aside dollars to undergraduates at the three schools go to students without financial need.

More Iowa State items

Other requests for which Iowa State will seek board approval are:

  • Add $1.2 million to the budget of the Curtiss Hall renovation project. The increase reflects the need to add central air conditioning to rooms with window units (required by window replacement) and difficulties encountered in modernizing a 104-year-old building. The proposed revised budget is $14.3 million; the increase would be covered by university funds.
  • Name the department of biochemistry, biophysics and molecular biology for the Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust, in recognition of the trust's latest gift to the department — $7.5 million to support new initiatives in the area of biomolecular structure. The name change would be effective immediately.
  • An initial 10-year lease between Ames area developer Dickson Jensen and the athletics department for a yet-to-be-constructed indoor golf practice facility on South Duff Avenue. Jensen would pay to build the facility; the department would pay about $235,000 a year to lease it for the men's and women's golf teams. The source of the funds would be athletics operating revenues and private gifts.
  • A 50-year lease with the city of Ames for a small parcel of land in the southwest corner of the city's Moore Memorial Park, north of Veenker golf course. Iowa State would build a golf maintenance building there, out of the Squaw Creek flood plain. The existing building has sustained flood damage numerous times in the last 30 years. Flood insurance reimbursements and FEMA funds would pay for the relocation. In lieu of lease payments, the city would be allowed to store maintenance equipment in the building and, if it has a basement, have a public access storm shelter included in the lower level.