Universities asked to prepare five-year tuition proposals for regents' task force

The state Board of Regents' tuition task force has scheduled meetings this summer with five stakeholder groups, including Iowa's three regent universities. All sessions are open to the public; audio of each also will be livestreamed on the board's website.

Recommended this spring by outgoing board president Bruce Rastetter and picked up by new board president Michael Richards, the four-member task force is charged with leading a discussion on funding public higher education in Iowa, including issues that play into the process of setting tuition rates for the three public universities. The intent is to make tuition rates more predictable for students and their families and less reactionary from year to year. For the last two years, the board adjusted fall tuition rates just months before the semester began. Iowa State experienced cuts to its state appropriations in both FY17 and FY18.

Regent Larry McKibben, who chairs the task force, said "that's a bad way to do business."

He went on to explain it's unrealistic to expect three large universities to operate without annual revenue increases. Additionally, he expects the budgeting process to be proactive, not reactive.

"We have to do better," McKibben said. "I want the students of Iowa to have the highest quality of education we can give them, but they -- and the citizens of Iowa -- need some understanding of what [a university education] is going to cost them."

Joining McKibben on the task force are regents Milt Dakovich (vice chair), Sherry Bates and Nancy Boettger.

Submit your comments

  • In person: Aug. 9, noon-1 p.m., 240 Scheman
  • Online: by Aug. 31

The task force has requested time with two broad stakeholder groups: legislative/state government representatives, and business, workforce development, and economic development representatives. Both of those presentations are scheduled for July 27.

Five-year tuition plan

Each of the three universities will present a five-year tuition proposal at its session with the task force. Iowa State's presentation is scheduled for Aug. 9.

"Scaling the university to accommodate rapid enrollment growth and ensuring progress on Iowa State’s strategic plan are guiding the development of the proposal," said chief financial officer Miles Lackey. "Investments that support our students and advance our strategic priorities are essential in order for us to continue fulfilling our land-grant responsibilities."

The process of developing Iowa State's tuition proposal is being led by the president's budget cabinet, with input from student leaders and shared governance groups, including the university budget advisory committee, president's cabinet, senior vice president leadership teams, and others. Budget planners have conducted many work sessions this month to listen, pose questions, and collect ideas and data that will shape a long-term tuition proposal.

Campus listening sessions

The task force's campus visits also will include an open listening hour (noon-1 p.m.), during which members of the public may address the task force on the topic of tuition. McKibben said task force members are anxious to hear what students and families have to say. Comments may be submitted to the task force via its website as well.

Noting that the discussion on tuition never actually stops, McKibben said he is hopeful that this task force's work wraps up in time to submit a final report to the full board at its Sept. 7 meeting. The board's current practice is to receive tuition proposals from the universities in October for the following fall, and approve rates at its December meeting.

Meeting schedule: Tuition task force

Thursday, July 27, Pappajohn Education Center, 1200 Grand Ave., Des Moines

  • 9 a.m.-noon, Legislative and state government representatives
  • 1-4 p.m., Business and economic development associations and state agencies

Monday, Aug. 7, University of Northern Iowa: Slife Ballroom, Commons

  • 10:30-11:30 a.m., Tuition presentation
  • Noon-1 p.m., Listening session

Wednesday, Aug. 9, Iowa State: 240 Scheman, Iowa State Center

  • 10:30-11:30 a.m., Tuition presentation
  • Noon-1 p.m., Listening session

Monday, Aug. 14, University of Iowa: Kollros Auditorium, Biology Building East, 210 E. Iowa Ave.

  • 10:30-11:30 a.m., Tuition presentation
  • Noon-1 p.m., Listening session