Regents will revisit 2016-17 tuition rates

The state Board of Regents will return to the topic of 2016-17 tuition rates, likely at its June meeting, following higher education funding increases from the 2016 Legislature that are less than one-third of what was requested last fall.

As approved by the Iowa Senate and awaiting action in the House, the increase to Iowa State's general university appropriation, $2.2 million, is 27 percent of the $8.2 million the university sought to address growth issues associated with booming student enrollment. The $2.2 million represents a 1.2 percent increase over the current year's general university appropriation of $182.2 million.

All of Iowa State's other state appropriations, whether from education, agriculture or economic development funding sources, would remain at current levels next year.

In a statement last week, board president Bruce Rastetter said he and his colleagues are "very disappointed" with the funding level and have no choice but to reopen the tuition discussion.

President Steven Leath said, "It's unfortunate that our unprecedented growth and tremendous demand for an Iowa State education is timed with a tightening of state revenues and support for higher education. As a result, we will be proposing tuition increases to take effect during the 2016-17 academic year."

Leath said he has directed his budget team to examine all areas of tuition: undergraduate, graduate, resident and nonresident, as well as the possibility of differential tuition for Iowa State's more expensive programs.

"We have talked to students and faculty, and they feel strongly that a modest increase is a reasonable course of action," Leath said.

Noting that families need time to plan for any tuition adjustments, Leath said by mid-May he'll share Iowa State's proposals for raising more tuition revenue. All changes to tuition rates need the regents' approval. The board meets June 9 in Ames.

December's tuition plan

In December, the board approved a tuition freeze for Iowa State's resident undergraduates for the 2016-17 year, a 4 percent increase for veterinary medicine resident students and a 3 percent increase for all other Iowa State students, conditional on legislative support of the university's funding request for next year. The board also approved an Iowa State request for supplemental tuition -- $500 per year for three years for all (returning and new) nonimmigrant, noncitizen international students. This additional revenue will help cover the cost of services for international students, which had been shared by all students.