Regents ask for an additional $ 15 million in state aid for Iowa universities


Iowa State to Get Biggest Credit Increase

The exterior of the Iowa State Capitol building can be seen in Des Moines on Tuesday, June 8, 2021 (Andy Abeyta / The Gazette)

IOWA CITY – The Iowa Board of Regents – refused any increase in state funding for its public universities in the last legislative session – is asking for a $ 15 million increase in its higher education appropriations for the next fiscal year.

If granted, the board promises the largest share – $ 7 million – would go to Iowa State University, with the University of Iowa and the University of Northern Iowa receiving $ 4 million each. This is different from the demands of the board of directors in recent years – which pledged equal amounts to the UI and ISU, its research institutes, and a lesser amount to its smaller UNI.

Regent’s documents outlining his requests for credits for fiscal 2023 did not explicitly explain the higher amount for the state of Iowa – which for at least a decade has enrolled the most students among the three while receiving less state funds than unemployment insurance.

If lawmakers grant the council-requested $ 15 million increase, total higher education funding for Iowa’s three public universities would drop from $ 486 million to $ 501 million. Even if the state of Iowa gets the biggest share of this bump, as proposed, its total funding of $ 179.1 million would still be well below the total UI funding of $ 219.6 million. .

In addition to an additional $ 15 million for higher education funding, the council is seeking increased support for its special schools, economic development activities and specialized units – like the interface-based State Hygienic Lab. user – bringing the total requested increase to $ 22.1 million.

If approved, the council’s total state appropriations would increase from $ 616.6 million to $ 638.6 million, according to council documents.

Last year, at the height of the COVID pandemic, the board requested an additional $ 29.3 million – including $ 18 million for higher education and a return of $ 8 million that the State cut in 2020 due to the pandemic. Lawmakers rejected this request, keeping higher education operating funding flat.

In light of the denial, the Board of Regents increased tuition fees this fall for all students at its three public universities, including UNI, which hoped to keep rates frozen to remain competitive among its regional peers.

The board’s 2023 funding request – which it will consider approving next week at its monthly meeting – outlines how each campus will use its extra money, if any.

University of Iowa will use an additional $ 4 million to:

  • Hire and retain mental health professionals because “academic success is directly linked to the physical and mental well-being of students”;
  • Providing financial aid and other support services to qualified residents of Iowa pursuing a degree in a high-demand field – such as computer science, education, financial consulting, and engineering;
  • Develop academic guidance and teaching practices, focusing on departments and courses with higher enrollment “and / or where there is potential to increase retention and graduation rates”.

State of Iowa will use its $ 7 million bonus to:

  • Closing the gaps in retention and graduation rates among certain groups of students through curriculum improvements in high-enrollment courses, academic counseling and tutoring, support for first generation students and programs that help transfer students succeed;
  • Support access and affordability for Iowa residents through targeted financial assistance;
  • Promote economic opportunities in Iowa by expanding ISU’s innovation and entrepreneurship programs;
  • Retain the best performing faculty and staff – the state of Iowa reporting average faculty salaries equivalent to only 88% of peer institutions, up from 98% a decade ago;
  • Support for one-time start-up costs and recurring staff costs associated with e-learning, enabling the UIS to “modernize and expand the e-portfolio”.

University of Northern Iowa will use its additional $ 4 million to:

  • Realign its tuition and compulsory fees with its regional counterparts – which on average $ 2,820 less in tuition and compulsory fees than research institutions in their states, while UNI costs $ 735 less than the fees of average undergraduate resident tuition and compulsory fees at UI and ISU;
  • Increase the number of registrations and honor the second year of a negotiated contract for employee salary increases;
  • Increase your graduation rate in four years.

Vanessa Miller covers higher education for The Gazette.

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