Incremental state operating support next year is shy of 1 percent

University leaders are working this month to finish an operating budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1 with funding levels that generally look a lot like this year's. The 2015 Legislature rejected some key appropriation requests from the state Board of Regents, including about $12.9 million -- shared between Iowa State and University of Northern Iowa -- to begin to implement a performance-based funding model without redistributing dollars from the University of Iowa. The funding model would have radically changed the formula for how the operating appropriation from the state – roughly $500 million – is shared among the three state universities.

If Gov. Terry Branstad signs the education appropriations bill, Iowa State instead will receive an additional $1.2 million (and a total of $182.2 million) in its general university appropriation, in recognition of ISU's growing enrollment.

Legislators also approved about $2.3 million in one-time funds for Iowa State, but discussions about where to use those funds will wait, pending a signature from the governor. Assistant vice president for financial planning and budgets Dave Biedenbach said senior administrators would discuss uses for those funds once the dollars are certain. Language in the bill stipulates that the funds can't be used for operational or ongoing expenses, including salaries, support, administrative expenses or other personnel-related costs.

Branstad has 30 days from the time he receives a bill to sign or veto it. Given the Legislature's late adjournment (June 5), it could be as late as mid-July before budget numbers are finalized.

2015 Legislative summary: New appropriations for Iowa State


  • $1.2 million in operating funds


  • $2.3 million in non-operating funds
  • $1.23 million over three years for a pilot project on data collection for in-field agriculture practices
  • $330,000 for cancer-related equipment in the College of Veterinary Medicine

Commitment for ISU building project:

  • $40 million over five years (FY2017-21) for the Student Innovation Center ($1 million, $9 million and three years at $10 million)

New tuition revenue

About 85 percent of the recurring new dollars in the next operating budget could come from tuition revenues. Nearly $15 million of about $18 million in anticipated new revenue, in an operating budget of about $660 million, would come from enrollment growth – anticipated at about 1,000 additional students -- and tuition increases of 1.2 percent to 3.2 percent for all students except resident undergraduates.

Biedenbach said employee compensation increases, student financial aid, inflationary increases on external vendor services and products, costs associated with moving university units into the Kingland office building in Campustown next winter and other unavoidable increases will total more than $15 million. He said that leaves nearly $3 million to invest in new or continuing priorities.

Finishing up

Despite the potential lag with bills being signed into law, Iowa State has a July 2 deadline to submit its FY16 budget to the regents office. Senior vice presidents will submit their final budget plans to the president later this month, and a late June memo from the president back to them will provide an overview of the budget outcomes. Details of that budget also will be shared in July in Inside.