Regents vote to end tuition set-aside for in-state students

Tuition dollars from in-state undergraduate students no longer will be a revenue source for student financial aid, under changes approved Oct. 25 by the state Board of Regents. Instead, the board will ask the Legislature this winter for $39.5 million in FY14 to launch a new state financial aid program for the three regent universities that would assist only resident undergraduates with financial need. The board also is asking the schools' foundations to raise millions of dollars in private funds for scholarships, both merit- and need-based.

In September at his installation address, president Steven Leath announced a goal to raise $150 million for Iowa State student financial aid over the next five years. Board staff member Diana Gonzalez told board members that last year (2011-12) Iowa State awarded more than $3.6 million in merit-based scholarships to in-state undergraduate students; the endowment needed to generate that amount of scholarship aid is $85.7 million, she said.

Regent Bruce Rastetter said tuition would be reset for resident undergraduates each year, reflecting the amount of state financial aid provided the previous year. For example, resident undergraduate tuition rates for fall 2014 would be reduced commensurate with financial aid appropriated by the Legislature during the 2013 session.

"That's the commitment we'll give the governor and the Legislature," Rastetter said. "We look at this as a continually evolving partnership with the state."

He said the foundations' success at raising scholarship dollars also could lower tuition rates for resident undergraduate students.

According to board data, Iowa State awarded nearly $17.7 million in need-based aid to 7,694 in-state undergraduates last year – about 16 percent of the unmet need once federal and state grant aid was offered. Need-based aid at the other two universities totaled more than $20 million, and these totals, plus an inflationary increase, are the basis for the $39.5 million request to the Legislature this winter.

At Iowa State this year, undergraduate tuition set-aside created more than $61 million for student aid.

While "tuition set-aside" language will disappear from the board's policy manual, board president Craig Lang said the universities could continue to use tuition revenue from out-of-state students as "discretionary grants" for those students.

"We don't want to reduce the amount of scholarships for any students," he said.

Tuition and fees

As part of the board's broad goal to keep the regent universities affordable and accessible, tuition for resident undergraduates and mandatory fees for all Iowa State students would remain unchanged next year under a proposal reviewed by the board. Graduate tuition for in-state students would go up $92 (1.2 percent). As proposed, out-of-state students would pay 2.35 percent more in tuition next year -- $440 for undergraduates and $462 for graduates.

Resident undergraduates are paying $6,648 in tuition and $1,078 in mandatory fees this year. The board is scheduled to make a final decision on 2013-14 tuition and fees at its Dec. 5 meeting.

The board also reviewed a consolidated list of non-mandatory student fees – fees that students pay for specific services, such as applying for admission or replacing a lost diploma. Last October, board members expressed frustration at the variety of fees and inconsistency in prices among the three universities. Board staff worked with the schools to distinguish "common fees" from "university fees." Some proposed increases in common fees for Iowa State students – for example, graduate student application fees and late registration fees -- are for consistency with the University of Iowa's higher rates.

The non-mandatory fees also are scheduled for final approval at the board's December meeting.

Differential tuition

Differential tuition plans are exempted from the proposed tuition freeze. Iowa State is proposing differential tuition next year for four student groups: juniors and seniors in agricultural systems technology and industrial technology (both in the ag and biosystems engineering department), and undergraduate and graduate architecture students. Resident AST and ITec upper division students would pay an additional $584 (non-residents $1,052), the third of a revised four-year incremental increase to lower student-to-faculty ratios and provide excellent instruction and cutting-edge lab experiences. Adding a fourth year would align tuition for these programs with others in the College of Engineering.

All resident architecture students would pay a proposed $400 in additional tuition next year – the second of a three-year plan -- intended to help hire more faculty to address the program's 30 percent enrollment increase since 2007. For out-of-state students, the increase is a proposed $850.

More apartments in Frederiksen Court

The residence department received a green light to begin construction on six more apartment buildings – housing a total of 720 students -- in the Frederiksen Court student community. The new buildings will be slightly larger versions of the existing 23 buildings, with six additional apartments per building and all single bedrooms. Site work could begin this winter.

The residence department will finance the project through two dormitory revenue bond sales (April 2013 and 2014). Under a phased construction plan, the buildings would open in the fall 2013 and spring 2014 semesters. More information.

Regent Johnson resigns

Student regent Greta Johnson, who received a bachelor's degree from Iowa State in May 2010 and a master's degree from the University of Northern Iowa last spring, will resign from the board on Nov. 18. She has served as a regent since October 2008. Her successor will be a student at the University of Iowa, and president Sally Mason said she has begun to develop a list of potential student regents. Gov. Terry Branstad will appoint Johnson's successor.

In other action, the board approved Iowa State requests to:

  • Enter a 10-year agreement with PUREnergy to lease a small (100 kilowatts) wind turbine to be constructed northeast of the ISU power plant. The company will own the turbine; Iowa State will purchase all of its energy output, as well as have access to it for teaching, research or demonstrations.
  • Award the title of president emeritus to Gregory Geoffroy, who served as Iowa State president from to July 2001 to January of this year.
  • Revise the project budget for the School of Education office remodeling in Lagomarcino Hall (up $825,000, to $3.725 million). Construction changes include a new central north entrance/addition to the building, the addition of a fire sprinkler system in the areas being remodeled, and classrooms and office areas to replace those being displaced for the School of Education.