Higher Ed Budget Bill Advances; Tuition Hikes Predicted

Apr 14, 2016

Budget writers at the capitol have found a way to squeeze a few million dollars out of the education budget, in order to boost appropriations for the Regents universities. 

Even so, education advocates are calling funding for the schools woefully inadequate. 

Under the budget that now goes to the full House for debate, funding for the three universities will go up by a total of about $6 million, less than a third of their request. 

That amounts to a raise of less than one percent for the University of Iowa and one-point-two percent for Iowa State.

Dusk Shot: Iowa State Memorial Union
Credit Joe Wolf/flickr

That follows small or nonexistent increases last year.

University of Northern Iowaa’s appropriation will go up by just under three percent.

Sen. Brian Schoenjahn (D-Arlington), co-chair of the budget panel, said without raising taxes they had less than five million dollars of new money to stretch across a billion dollar budget.

“That’s what we did with the precious resources we had,” Schoenjahn said.  “I know across the board it’s not enough.”

“I don’t think anybody got what they needed or think they needed, but we did the best we can with the resources that we have,” added Rep. Cecil Dolocheck (R-Mount Ayr).

Officials are predicting tuition hikes.   

Regents President Bruce Rastetter says the board will immediately begin discussing a tuition increase at each of the three universities for this fall.

“The board’s goal was to be able to freeze tuition if we received state appropriations as requested,” Rastetter said in a statement.

UNI Panther Marching Band
Credit Steve James/flickr

The billion dollar budget includes higher education along with a variety of K-12 and other programs.

To win a little extra for higher education, lawmakers trimmed administration costs, phased out state help for online classes, and lowered funding for National Guard tuition assistance because of decreased demand.    Guard officials say fewer soldiers and airmen are returning from overseas deployment.

The National Guard savings made possible a three million dollar increase for community colleges.