Quick look: Regent university five-year tuition proposals

Iowa's three public universities have proposed annual undergraduate tuition increases in the range of 1.75 to 11.7 percent during the next five years, in response to a state Board of Regents strategy to make the tuition-setting process predictable and stable for students and parents.

The two ends of the range are in Northern Iowa's proposal, which features three tuition scenarios based on possibilities for state operating support. The Iowa State and Iowa proposals feature a consistent annual increase for resident undergraduates (7 percent and 7.08 percent, respectively) and nonresident undergraduates (4 percent and 2.08 percent, respectively). Both of those proposals assume flat state operating support, and further cuts could alter their proposals, leaders said.

The universities presented their proposals at campus-based public forums Aug. 7-14. The four-member regents tuition task force will present a summary of the proposals and public comment to the full board at its Sept. 7 meeting in Iowa City. In October, the board will see tuition proposals for the 2018-19 year for the first time and vote on them at its December meeting.

Inside provides a summary of the three proposals.

Iowa State

Interim President Ben Allen told task force members Iowa State would use the additional revenue to maintain quality and scale key aspects of the university to begin to catch up with 10 years of enrollment growth. The four priority areas are: faculty and staff retention (salaries and salary increases), net growth of 330 tenure-eligible faculty as well as staff hires, 900,000 square feet of new building space and additional student financial aid.

Iowa State undergraduate tuition proposal


Fall 2018

Fall 2019

Fall 2020

Fall 2021

Fall 2022







   7% increase






   Base tuition












   4% increase






   Base tuition






Fall 2017 base tuition: Resident $7,456, nonresident $21,292

Iowa State assumptions:

  • Flat state operating appropriations
  • Flat enrollment
  • Higher Education Price Index of 2.14 percent (inflationary consideration)
  • Annual internal reallocations of 2.25 percent

University of Iowa

President Bruce Harreld told task force members his university is being "dramatically outspent" by its peers -- on average, almost $91 million in tuition and nearly $200 million in state support annually. He said additional revenue would be put toward an "excellence plan" to return the university "to the stature Iowans deserve." Specifics include hiring about 100 faculty and retaining the best faculty via competitive salary increases relative to peer schools; investments in both research and "high-impact" student opportunities such as internships and research team placements; and additional need-based and merit-based scholarships.

Harreld said a decision needs to be made: Either state government confirms that higher education is a public good and appropriates more money to the regent universities, or the universities are "allowed to compete with their peers and create the resources needed."

University of Iowa undergraduate tuition proposal


Fall 2018

Fall 2019

Fall 2020

Fall 2021

Fall 2022







   7.08% increase






   Base tuition












   2.08% increase






   Base tuition






Fall 2017 base tuition: Resident $7,486, nonresident $29,130

University of Iowa assumptions:

  • Flat state operating appropriations
  • Flat enrollment

University of Northern Iowa

Northern Iowa President Mark Nook said his university doesn't want to be on the same tuition trajectory as the other two regent schools.

"If we followed Iowa and Iowa State, we'd price ourselves out of our market," he said. While the board has identified a peer group for each of the universities, Nook said the group UNI most identifies with is like-sized schools in adjoining states.

He told the task force that additional revenue would support additional faculty and staff positions and additional student financial aid, in response to planned enrollment growth of about 450 students in five years.

Nook also noted that Northern Iowa's state support covers about half the cost of education, which is notably higher than the other two universities, where it's less than 30 percent this fall.

"Quality isn't tied to tuition revenue; it's tied to total revenue. We are subsidizing the cost of an education at UNI," Nook said.

Northern Iowa undergraduate resident tuition proposal

State funding level

Fall 2018

Fall 2019

Fall 2020

Fall 2021

Increase of 1.75 percent/year





    Base tuition





Flat each year





    Base tuition





Repeats FY18's 3.2 percent reduction in FY19, then flat for 3 years





    Base tuition





Fall 2017 base tuition: $7,457

Nook said the third scenario "is not a reasonable request" and would raise UNI tuition above all other schools in its comparison group except Illinois.

Northern Iowa assumptions:

  • Growth in student body of 450 students (about 3.5 percent) by FY22, primarily nonresidents
  • Hold expenses (employee salary and health care increases, maintenance) at FY08 levels adjusted for inflation (using the Consumer Price Index, not Higher Education Price Index)