By Elianna Novitch
As the cost of higher education continues to rise, students are left to try to balance the cost of tuition, housing, food, and other expenses that come along with being a student at the University of Iowa.
Many are left holding their breath with proposed tuition rates for the 2018-19 academic year yet to be set. On Tuesday, the state Board of Regents released its agenda for the February meeting. An initial reading of tuition rates that had been scheduled to take place at the Feb. 21-22 meeting has been delayed until April, with approval of those rates to come at the June meeting.
Student leaders have urged the regents and administrators to look at tuition increases from a holistic perspective, keeping in mind the other expenses associated with being a college student.
“The reality of the moment is that college has become far more expensive in the last couple of years, especially those nontuition expenses,” UI Student Government Director of Governmental Relations Mitchell Dunn said.
Both the university and student leaders have helped create programs that will help students with nontuition expenses.
When it comes to access to affordable and healthy food, programs such as the Hawkeye Meal Share Program and the Food Pantry have been put in place to assist students facing food insecurity.
Karly Lent, the marketing and outreach coordinator for the Food Pantry at Iowa, said that last year, the Food Pantry gave away 11,920 pounds of food; this past fall semester, it gave away 10,509 pounds. She estimated that by the end of this year, it will have doubled the amount of food given out.
“We are paying huge expenses for tuition and the cost of living in Iowa City,” Lent said. “I think the cost of food has an even bigger impact [here] than in other places.”
Lent said a large issue in access to affordable food is the lack of affordable grocery stores within walking distance.
Another expense students have to keep in mind is housing. City Councilor Kingsley Botchway said there has not been enough discussion about affordable housing in student neighborhoods.
“Our students are a part of our population, and I think that there’s a lack of conversation about how important our students are to Iowa City,” he said.
Botchway spoke from his own experience from when he was a student and affordable housing for students is a problem.
“We want our students to focus on the educational aspects and the reason they come to [the University of Iowa] in general,” Botchway said. “When they have to scrounge and figure out a way to live affordably, including food and housing, that’s tough on any student.”
Another expense that leaders on campus work to address is the affordability of textbooks and what can be done to lower that cost for students. The UI Admissions Office figures $950 when calculating the cost for a year of college textbooks.
UISG recently allocated $20,000 to support the UI Libraries’ course-reserve system with a goal of alleviating students’ textbook expenses as a part of a textbook-affordability pilot program.
With a tuition increase likely, student leaders continue to urge legislators and administrators to consider how raising tuition will affect the other costs that come with being a student.
“With this potential funding decrease, it’s quite likely we are going to see a tuition increase that’s going to affect students in addition to those other costs that they’re facing,” Dunn said.