Regents propose 3.5-3.9% tuition increases for fall

Following a freeze this year on all tuition and fee rates, the state Board of Regents is considering a 3.5% tuition increase for resident undergraduates this fall (3.9% increase for all others). With a package of mandatory student fees that would increase about 2.8% ($36), the impact is $318 (3.4%) more this fall for resident undergraduates, $418 (3.8%) for resident graduate students, $942 (3.8%) for nonresident undergraduates and $1,000 (3.9%) for nonresident graduate students.

The increases are higher for upper division students in academic programs that assess supplemental tuition to cover higher instructional costs. The proposed increases for professional Veterinary Medicine students are $982 (3.8%) for residents and $2,116 (3.9%) for nonresident students.

The regents held a first reading, without questions or public discussion, of the tuition proposal during a June 24 virtual meeting. The second reading and vote is anticipated at the group's July 28 meeting.

The proposal aligns partially with tuition "guardrails" the board approved in fall 2018 that link tuition increases to the Legislature's support for the universities' funding requests; higher state funding equates to lower tuition increases and vice versa. According to that plan, when the Legislature's funding remains flat, resident undergraduate tuition would increase 3 percent plus the projected HEPI (Higher Education Price Index), for which the FY22 projected midpoint currently is at 2.1%, according to the University of Iowa's economics department.


Proposed tuition and mandatory fees*


2021-22 proposed

Increase over 2020-21



















Veterinary Medicine (DVM)









*Base rates; doesn't reflect differential tuition.


As part of its June 24 discussion, the regents invited comments from student government leaders at the three universities.

ISU student government president Julia Campbell reminded board members that the state's investment in public education pays off in a skilled workforce, lower unemployment rates, higher tax revenue and fewer demands on government-funded social services.

"In the wake of the pandemic, we want to have as minimally disruptive an impact on students as possible, many of whom are struggling financially. Given current fiscal constraints, there's not a realistic way to maintain the level of education we experience without cutting campus services or increasing tuition," Campbell said.

Speaking to the proposed increase for fall, she said, "We are asking that it be as small an increase as possible to still allow us to maintain the exceptional level of education our regent institutions have offered for generations. While we realize education is an investment in our future, we want to reduce and mitigate unnecessary financial burdens developed during this time.

"As long as the Board of Regents stays true to the mission of providing diversified and high-quality educational offerings at a reasonable cost, the best decision will be made," she added.

Board president Mike Richards thanked the students for their leadership and assured them "the regents really do try to keep the cost to the students as low as we can and still keep the quality up there where it belongs."

Differential tuition, simplified

Iowa State first assessed differential tuition during the 2006-07 academic year, for upper division students in the College of Engineering. Since then, it has phased in differential tuition for other upper division students, fourth-year professional Veterinary Medicine students and graduate students in programs that are more costly to deliver -- rather than spread the costs across the entire student body. A three-year, $500/year increment for all nonimmigrant, noncitizen international students began in 2015-16 to recover the extra costs of admitting, advising and providing additional services for them. In 2018-19, the university began a three-year plan to align the various differential tuitions in two levels, labeled as A and B, to simplify the structure. With last year's tuition freeze, that process would wrap up in the new academic year, except for the final year (of three) to phase in differential tuition for sophomores in agricultural systems technology, industrial technology and all Engineering programs.

Changes to mandatory fees

Iowa State is requesting an increase of $36 to its student fees package that would bring it to $1,309.90. That reflects:

  • $263 health fee, an increase of $23, to maintain high quality, accessible care for students at Thielen Student Health Center
  • $6 health facility preventive maintenance fee, a decrease of $10 redirected to the health fee
  • $252.20 student services fee, an increase of $19, for CyRide labor and fuel increases
  • $89.10 student union building fee, an increase of $4, to address deferred maintenance
  • $321.60 recreation fee, no change
  • Variable technology fee, by program (range is $244-$506), no change

Increases to common student fees

Separate from mandatory fees, students pay common fees only for services they need or request, for example application fee or thesis fee. Iowa State proposes to change two of several dozen:

  • Enrollment fee for graduate students would go up 3.9%, from $543 to $564. This is consistent with the tuition increase rate.
  • Continuing education rates (per credit hour) would be assessed from a dollar range, to offer some flexibility and recover the costs of offering each program to off-campus or online learners. The undergraduate rate would increase from $336/credit hour to a range of $348-1,214/credit hour. The graduate rate would increase from $543 to a range of $564-$1,705.