Tuition rates at Iowa’s three regent universities in the 2014-2015 academic year could remain flat for undergraduate residents, increase for non-resident and graduate students and decrease for one group of pupils.
According to a tuition proposal scheduled to go before the Iowa Board of Regents next week, the University of Iowa College of Law is asking to reduce tuition rates for students interested in several of its programs.
For the law school's nonresident Juris Doctor applicants, for example, the proposal would drop tuition from $47,252 to $39,500 in the fall of 2014.
The decrease aims to offset national and regional trends that have had an adverse affect on the law school applicant pool, according to regent documents. Those trends include a decline in legal jobs since the 2008 recession, a drop in legal starting salaries, and a decrease in the number of people taking the law school admissions test.
“Structural changes in the legal profession have had a profound impact on legal education and the recruitment of students to law schools,” according to the documents.
The UI law school has continued to attract well-qualified candidates, but the incoming class sizes have taken a hit, UI officials report. The number of Iowa resident applicants to the UI College of Law in 2012 was 173, according to the report, down from its five-year peak of 287 in 2010.
The College of Law annually reports strong job placement rates for its graduates, and it has a strong national and regional reputation. Still, according to the report, “limiting resident tuition and decreasing the nonresident tuition is an important strategy for maintaining the vitality and quality of the Iowa law school and its programs.”
The decrease in resident applicants to the law school is in line with overall trends, but the decline in nonresident applicants is higher than national trends. According to feedback from prospective students, competition is increasing and “nonresident students no longer identify Iowa College of Law as a high value proposition.”
UI officials acknowledge the reduction in tuition is “significant,” but they said several factors were considered in developing the recommended rate decreases.
For starters, Iowa’s College of Law tuition and fees rank fourth highest in its peer group.
“It is expected that the estimated $310,000 loss in tuition revenue from this rate change will be offset by increased enrollment as a result of successful recruitment efforts,” according to regent documents.
Aside from special requests like the one from the UI law school, the regent’s tuition proposal looks to freeze tuition for resident undergraduates and increase rates for nonresidents, graduate and professional students.
Proposed increases in undergraduate nonresident tuition at Iowa’s three regent universities for the 2014-2015 academic year will bring in a combined $7.6 million in new revenue, according to regent documents.
For nonresident students at the UI, the proposed tuition increase will translate into a jump of $460 – or 1.8 percent –over the previous year.
Under the proposal, tuition would remain frozen for Iowa undergraduates, should the regents receive a 4 percent increase in state funding for fiscal 2015.