Regents have first look at tuition increases for fall

Resident undergraduates at Iowa State would pay about $330 more in tuition and mandatory fees this fall, under a proposal presented to the state Board of Regents May 1. For out-of-state undergraduates, the jump would be about $1,100. The proposed increases -- 3.7% for resident undergraduates and 4.8% for nonresidents -- respond to a state operating appropriation increase of $12 million for the three universities -- $6 million less than what the board sought from the Legislature.

The tuition-only increase is 3.9% for resident undergraduates, 4% for resident and nonresident veterinary medicine students and 4.9% for all other students. The proposed resident undergraduate increase fits within the "guiderails" set last fall in the board's five-year tuition plan. The plan doesn't include a strategy for nonresident tuition.

This fall, Iowa State also will begin year two of a three-year plan to align numerous differential tuitions into two levels: $1,600 and $2,612 ($3,026 for nonresident and international students) annually when fully implemented. Most differential tuitions begin in the junior year, but beginning this fall Iowa State proposes assessing the differential to sophomores in engineering disciplines and the agriculture systems technology and industrial technology programs in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

Proposals: 2019-20 tuition and mandatory fees**

ISU student group



Increase (%)

Resident undergraduate




Nonresident undergraduate




Resident graduate




Nonresident graduate




Resident veterinary*




Nonresident veterinary*




*Rate varies for 12-month 4th year
**Standard rates (no differential tuition)

In her comments to board members, President Wendy Wintersteen noted this year's operating support from the state is $20 million less than it was in 2000, when enrollment stood at 26,845 -- about 8,000 fewer students than the current academic year. She pointed to "a long-term trend by the state of underfunding or cutting support for public higher education and shifting the burden to our students and their families."

"The future of Iowa is closely tied to the future of our regent universities," she said, "and we must begin to recognize the great return on investment our universities bring to the state."

Wintersteen pledged to do more to help the people of Iowa, particularly legislators, understand that critical link.

Despite the state funding shortfall, Wintersteen said recruiting and retaining high-quality faculty and staff remains a budget priority. She said Iowa State will present a salary proposal at the June meeting.

Student government president Austin Graber called the state funding commitment "disheartening."

He said students shouldn't be worrying every fall about whether they have enough money to return to school, and he called Iowa State's relatively low tuition among peer schools "an easy excuse" for tuition increases.

Graber also said the cumulative impact of tuition increases threatens a basic tenet of land-grant schools: making a college education broadly available.

While she's satisfied with the transparency and predictability built into the regents' five-year tuition plan -- including the interdependence of the appropriations, tuition and reallocations funding streams, Regent Nancy Dunkel said she's not comfortable with "the repercussions of the shortfall in our request from the Legislature."

While legislators have to juggle many funding requests, she said "by not funding our Board of Regents request, we're making it harder for our next generation of leaders to have a great education that is both high quality and affordable."

Dunkel noted that Iowa businesses increasingly demand an educated workforce, and she said it "will take money and it will take great universities to get us there."

Fee increases

As proposed, all Iowa State students would pay an additional $29.50 in mandatory fees next year, for a total of $1,277.90 for most students. An $18.50 increase to the student activities fee would be additional support for student government ($2) and a new fee to support the operations of the student newspaper ($16), replacing the Iowa State Daily's funding contract with student government. The remaining $11, an increase to the student services fee, would help cover cost increases in the CyRide bus system.

The $1,277.90 fee is standard for most undergraduates and reflects a $290 technology fee. This annual fee varies from $244 to $506, depending on the program.

Iowa State also proposes a $10 increase to its undergraduate application fee -- to $50 for U.S. residents and $60 for international students.

Promotion and tenure

In other business, the board gave final approval to promotions or tenure for 70 Iowa State faculty members for the 2019-20 academic year.