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Mt. Pleasant News   Wash Journal
Neighbors Growing Together | Sep 24, 2018

Regents have yet to decide tuition rates for next fall

By Vanessa Miller, The Gazette | Mar 21, 2018

State lawmakers plan to take back $11 million they already authorized the Board of Regents to spend this fiscal year — less than debated earlier, but still the largest dollar slice of any state agency.

Instead of a $565.3 million general fund appropriation for the board, which oversees Iowa’s three public universities and two special schools, the regents’ 2018 appropriations will slip midyear to about $554 million for the budget year ending June 30.

The Iowa House cut an overall $25 million from the budget, and adjusted another $10 million, to cope with another year of slower-than-anticipated tax receipts. The Iowa Senate could approve the cuts Wednesday.

Although dozens of other departments are facing reductions, too, the Board of Regents will take the brunt of them.

The $11 million regent cut will nearly offset the board’s request for $12 million in new money for the 2019 budget year — all of which the board has committed to spend on undergraduate financial aid. Earlier this year, Gov. Kim Reynolds proposed the regents receive $7.25 million more — about 60 percent of the request — instead.

In a statement, regents Executive Director Mark Braun said that “all cuts are hard.”

“But the Board of Regents understands the fiscal constraints the state is facing,” he said. “We will work with our institutions to make reductions in ways that have as little of an effect on students as possible.”

The House plans calls for holding harmless from these cuts the University of Northern Iowa, the smallest of the public universities with a large ratio of students paying the least expensive in-state tuition tier.

Students nonetheless will see a tuition increase in the fall, board President Mike Richards has said — but how much of one still is a question.

Richards has vowed to keep tuition increases for resident undergrads under 4 percent — scaling back proposals made over the summer to increase those costs as much as 7 percent.

Braun’s statement said the board “maintains its support for its appropriations request” of $12 million in resident undergraduate financial aid for fiscal 2019.

“The State of Iowa ranks last in the nation in need-based financial aid to public university students,” he said.

“We will work with the governor and General Assembly to ensure Iowa public universities receive the level of funding that is needed to provide the quality education that our students deserve.”

This year’s de-appropriation will aggravate cuts lawmakers made to regents institutions last year — first pulling back more than $20 million from the three universities in the middle of the 2017 budget year, and then already cutting another nearly $10 million for the budget year that started July 1.

But they are less than the $19.2 million in cuts the Senate had agreed earlier this year to make to regents institutions.

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