Regents take first look at $216 tuition increase

Iowa State will ask for an additional $216 in tuition this fall from each of its students, in response to $11.5 million less in state operating support on July 1 from a year ago. That's another 3 percent hike for resident undergraduates and between 0.4 percent (veterinary medicine nonresidents) and 2.5 percent (graduate residents) for all others.

If approved, the additional tuition revenue would raise an estimated $7.1 million for Iowa State, dependent on actual student enrollment this fall.

The state Board of Regents completed a first reading of the proposed tuition increase during a May 8 telephonic meeting and will vote on it during the board's June 8 meeting in Cedar Falls.

First increase

In December, the board approved Iowa State's request to raise 2017-18 tuition rates 2 percent ($142) for resident undergraduates and 3 percent for all other Iowa State students. The board also approved three-year differential tuition plans for juniors, seniors and graduate students in five more academic programs with higher instructional costs (animal science, biology, computer science, industrial design and natural resource ecology and management). Implementation on those five begins this fall. And 2017-18 is the second in a three-year plan in which all international students pay an additional $500 per year above nonresident tuition increases. When fully implemented, the differential will be $1,500.

If the board approves the tuition increase next month, Iowa State resident undergraduates would pay 5 percent more -- $358 -- this fall than in fall 2016. For nonresident undergraduates, the difference would be $830, a 4.1 percent increase.

ISU tuition rates for 2017-18

Student group

Approved: December

Proposed: May

Total increase from 2016-17

Resident undergraduate



$358 (5.0%)

Nonresident undergraduate



$830 (4.1%)

Resident graduate



$470 (5.5%)

Nonresident graduate



$870 (4.0%)

Resident vet medicine*



$862 (4.0%)

Nonresident vet medicine*



$1,646 (3.5%)

*Excludes 12-month fourth year

Comments from Iowa Staters

Interim president Ben Allen told board members that Iowa State's "short-term needs are outpacing our existing resources," which requires action yet this summer. He said there is strong support for the proposed $216 increase among student, staff and faculty leadership, and that the additional dollars would help the university hire and retain top faculty in order to lower its student-faculty ratio.

But Allen also noted that post-legislative session enrollment increases can't become routine.

"We believe it's time to take a fundamentally different approach, with respect to tuition," he said. "We must create a structure that more appropriately aligns tuition with the cost of providing an [Association of American Universities]-caliber education.

"We need a structure that is transparent, reasonable and predictable for our students and their families. We look forward to working with the regents' tuition task force to inform that process, and ultimately we intend to submit a tuition proposal this fall that includes a more substantial increase," Allen concluded.

Student government president Cody West also expressed his disappointment in another June tuition adjustment.

"The cost of a degree at Iowa State compared to the quality and reputation it holds with employers and other institutions is unmatched," West said. "Iowa State is an incredible institution and that is not in any way a product of our tuition rates."

But being in the position of having the lowest tuition among its peer universities shouldn't provide an excuse for repeatedly raising it, he said.

In tandem with some of the differential tuitions that take effect this fall, West called the proposed increase "unbearable for some." And while he said he is against this tuition increase in general, he said students support the idea of a flat, universal dollar amount that is blind to residency.

"It sends a powerful message to the Legislature that we are no longer going to give the break to resident students if our state government continues to show that higher education is not a priority," West said.