Regents listen to a presentation during a state Board of Regents meeting in the IMU main lounge on Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017. The regents provided a summary of the state's funding situation and discussed future steps they would take to make a predictable tuition plan. (Joseph Cress/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa regents plan to keep tuition hikes under 4 percent

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After the state Board of Regents had delayed a tuition discussion, the regents  unveiled a proposal Tuesday under which students at Iowa’s public universities would see tuition increases under 4 percent.

The rates for the 2018-19 academic year will be read for the first time at the April meeting of the regents in Council Bluffs. The regents will take a final vote on the rates during their June meeting.

Undergraduate students at the University of Iowa could see a 3.8 percent increase for residents and 2.1 percent increase for nonresident undergraduate students, for a base total of $7,770 and $29,736, respectively. Undergraduate programs with supplemental rates (business, engineering, medicine, and nursing) would see the same increase in rates.

Graduate students could also see a similar increase in base tuition with different rates for certain programs as a way to lessen the gap between the UI tuition rate and the median rate among the university’s peer group, according to regents’ documents.

For programs with tuition rates currently at the peer median, there would only be 2 percent increase proposed. The base tuition rate for graduate students is proposed at $9,785 for residents and $28,726 for nonresident students.

The plan scales back on previous proposals. In August 2017, the UI administration proposed to raise resident undergraduate tuition rates by 7.08 and nonresident undergraduate tuition rates by 2.08 percent each year over the next five years.

Students could also see an $18 increase in mandatory fees with increases in technology and recreation fees. Engineering students would see an extra 0.8 percent increase in technology fees alongside the current proposal. The recreation fee will be increased to meet the debt service schedule for the UI Campus & Recreation Wellness Center approved financial plan.

The regents have been working to achieve predictability for students and their families during a time of cuts to higher-education spending by the Iowa Legislature. During the regents’ Feb. 22 meeting in Ames, Regent President Mike Richards said the regents intend to release a range of baseline tuition increases for the next five years or so.

Specific tuition proposals have not been discussed at earlier meetings in light of uncertainty regarding state appropriations. In March, Gov. Kim Reynolds signed off on Senate File 2117, a bill that cut $10.9 million in funding to the UI and Iowa State University.

The combined increases in tuition among the three regent universities — UI, ISU, and the University of Northern Iowa — are expected to generate $24.9 million in incremental revenue for fiscal 2019.

— Emily Wangen

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