Resident undergraduates at Iowa’s three state universities could see their tuition reduced by about $1,000 in fall 2014, if the Legislature funds a state Board of Regents plan to establish a new financial aid program for Iowa’s neediest students with $39.5 million in state money.
The regents plan to ask the 2013 Legislature for $39.5 million to launch a state-funded aid program for needy Iowa students, which would replace the current tuition set-aside program at the University of Iowa, Iowa State University and the University of Northern Iowa.
If the state provides the requested funding for the program, the regents in the following year — fall 2014 at the earliest — would reduce resident undergraduate tuition by the amount of funding the state provides. It essentially replaces the tuition revenues that the universities had redistributed to needy in-state students through the tuition set-aside program with funding provided by the state for the proposed new aid program.
Based on undergraduate tuition of about $6,500, resident students would see about a $1,000 one-time decrease to their tuition bill under the plan, regents said.
“The state today does not have a scholarship fund for in-need students, which was why tuition set-aside was set up,” Regents President Pro Tem Bruce Rastetter, of Alden, said. “We’re saying they provide the scholarship money … we would lower the tuition that reflective amount.”
The tuition set-aside program, which came under fire last spring from some legislators and parents, would also be replaced through additional fundraising by the university foundations, regents leaders said. They made it clear the proposed state aid program would go only to needy in-state students.
State regents unveiled the plan at a meeting Wednesday in Ames. The board discussed the proposal, but won’t vote on it until October.
All Iowa families, not just the neediest, would benefit from the plan through the reduced tuition, regents said.
“This isn’t only a win for students in need, but for all in-state students, if in fact it becomes possible,” Regents President Craig Lang, of Brooklyn, said.
The university foundations will be tasked with raising additional funds to cover much of the merit-based scholarships now funded through tuition set-aside, Rastetter and Lang said. Tuition set-aside money that now goes to out-of-state students would be hopefully replaced in other ways, such as merit scholarships, they said.
About $14 million in total would be provided annually by the three university foundations under the plan, money that would go primarily to fund merit-based aid for resident students. More details about how the foundations expect to increase fundraising to contribute to the plan will be ready next month, Rastetter said.
“The good news is they were excited about being part of that,” he said. “Merit scholarships is a key point, making sure we have those scholarships to keep the best and brightest here in Iowa.”
The board in June voted unanimously to end the tuition set-aside program within five years, and tasked a committee with forming a plan to replace that money. Tuition set-aside distributed more than $144 million, or 21.3 percent of tuition revenues, in Fiscal Year 2011 to resident and nonresident undergraduate and graduate students in the form of need-based and merit-based financial aid. But the program came under fire from some legislators and parents last spring who said they weren’t aware of the program and didn’t feel student tuition dollars should be used to subsidize other students, especially those from out of state.
UNI PRESIDENTIAL SEARCH
State regents on Wednesday approved the 21 members of the presidential search committee for the University of Northern Iowa. The group will help search for a successor to President Ben Allen, who in August announced he would retire by next summer.
Three regents, Nicole Carroll of Carroll, Katie Mulholland of Marion, and Jack Evans of Cedar Rapids, will serve on the search committee.
The other members are: Ken Brown, professor of economics; Farzad Moussavi, dean of the College of Business Administration; Sue Etscheit, College of Education; Jeff Funderburk, professor of music; Anne Woodrick, professor of anthropology; David Mason, UNI Foundation; Justin Bierman, UNI Alumni Association; Cliff Chancey, department of physics; Dan Power, UNI United Faculty; Bettina Fabos, UNI United Faculty; C. Scott Peters, UNI Faculty Senate; Jordan Bancroft-Smithe, UNI Student Government; Mark Rowe-Barth, UNI Professional & Scientific Council; Julee Jacobson, UNI Supervisory & Confidential Council; Susan Baker, AFSCME Council 61; Mark Oman, UNI alum and trustee of the UNI Foundation; Diane Bridgewater, UNI alum and business executive; and Stan Askren, UNI alum and chairman of the Iowa Business Council.