Tuition increase set for final approval

Iowa State would receive $3.15 million in new state support next year -- identical to the University of Iowa -- in a proposed allocation the state Board of Regents will be asked to approve June 7 when it meets in Cedar Falls. The University of Northern Iowa would receive the remaining $2 million of a new $8.3 million appropriation to the three schools. The board's proposal stipulates that the funds be used for resident undergraduate financial aid.

The universities' request to the 2018 Legislature was $12 million for in-state undergraduate aid; $5 million each for ISU and Iowa, and $2 million for UNI.

The $8.3 million is shy of restoring a $10.9 million fourth-quarter reversion shared by ISU and Iowa this spring and made permanent in the state budget for fiscal year 2019. General operating state support for Iowa State on July 1 -- including the financial aid support -- will total $170.6 million, down from $172.9 million last July.

Gov. Kim Reynolds has not signed the education appropriations bill yet.

2018-19 tuition rates

The board will approve tuition and fees for the year that begins with fall semester. In spite of the reduction in state support next year, Iowa State's tuition proposal remains the same as outlined in April: A 3.8 percent tuition increase ($284 for the year) for resident undergraduates and 4 percent for all others, including veterinary medicine students. It includes two other pieces:

  • The final year of a three-phase, $542 annual tuition differential assessed all international students ($1,500 when fully implemented)
  • A three-year plan to align Iowa State's various differential tuitions in two levels when fully implemented: $1,600 (all students) or $2,612 ($3,026 for nonresidents including international)

Impacted programs would take either two or three years to get to the new rate. The two differential levels would apply to undergraduate and graduate education.

Admission index proposal

Both the academic and student affairs committee and the full board will be asked to approve a change that would make the alternative Regent Admission Index (RAI), used since 2015 for applicants whose high schools don't provide a class rank, the only admissions index for the three regent universities. If approved, the change would take effect for students admitted for summer 2020.

Alternative RAI:

(ACT composite score x 3) + (HS grade point average x 30) + (number of HS courses completed in core subject
areas x 5)

The original RAI, adopted in 2006, weighted four accomplishments: class rank, grade point average, ACT composite score and high school core courses completed. The alternative eliminates class rank as a consideration and adjusts the weighting.

A growing number of high schools in Iowa and nationally have dropped the use of class rank, currently impacting 27 percent of resident freshman applicants and 46 percent of all freshman applicants.

As part of its biannual review in 2017, the regents' inter-institutional admissions study team applied both formulas to 15,000 resident students enrolled at a regent university. It found:

  • 93 percent of students would be admitted under both formulas
  • Of those previously admitted under the primary RAI formula, 3 percent wouldn't be automatically admitted under the alternative
  • Nearly 4 percent of students who didn't qualify for automatic admission under the primary RAI would be admitted under the alternative one

The minimum score required for automatic admission remains unchanged at 245. Each university would continue to review applicant scores lower than 245 and make case-by-case admission decisions.

The Legislature's administrative rules review committee also needs to approve this policy change.

Gerdin addition, Memorial Union remodel

Gerdin lot

A four-story addition is proposed for the east side of the Gerdin Business Building. Submitted image.

The board's property and facilities committee will review several building proposals at Iowa State:

  • A schematic design and budget ($28 million) for a four-story, 40,000 square foot east addition to the Gerdin Building that would include classrooms and collaboration space, faculty and graduate student offices, and spaces for curricular, co-curricular and special events. University funds and private gifts would cover the costs. The tentative construction timeline is late 2018 through late 2020.
  • Permission to begin planning an estimated $11 million renovation to floors 4, 5 and 6 in the Memorial Union for student program offices. During the 2016-17 and 2017-18 academic years, the former Hotel Memorial Union floors were used temporarily as a student residence due to a high demand for on-campus housing. As proposed, student fees would cover the renovation cost. Offices that could use the space include the veterans center, student legal services, study abroad, LGBTQIA+ student success, NCORE/ISCORE programming, and international students and scholars.

In other ISU-related business, the full board will consider:

  • Annual performance evaluations for the four institution heads and executive director Mark Braun. Salary recommendations could come at this meeting or a subsequent one.
  • Adding four new degree programs: doctorate in population sciences in animal health, master of real estate development, and bachelor of science degrees in actuarial science and data science. All but the master's program (August 2019) could begin admitting students in August.
  • A request to sell 68 acres to the ISU Research Park for phase 3 expansion. The land, which the university purchased from an Ames developer in 2016, is located south of the park's Economic Development Core Facility. A total of $2.1 million will be paid in pieces as the research park sells portions of the land to future tenants. The board's property and facilities committee approved this plan in April.
  • Adding a 25-meal plan ($282) to the 50- 85- and 105-meal plans approved in April. The intent is to provide an option to students who spend less time on campus.

The academic and student affairs committee will act on requests to close two ISU centers, effective after full board approval this summer:

  • Analog and Mixed-Signal VLSI Design Center, created in 1988. Over time, it has evolved into a regular research/teaching laboratory within the electrical and computer engineering department. There is no need for “center” status since it has no administrative personnel or support infrastructure.
  • Asteroid Deflection Research Center, created in 2008. Current research is not at a level that requires the structure of an administrative center, and recent attempts to secure funding sufficient to support a center were unsuccessful. Instead, the unit will become the Asteroid Defense Research Consortium and collaborate with the international community on this issue.