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Regents to consider requesting $15 million increase from lawmakers


Regents to consider requesting $15 million increase from lawmakers

Sep 21, 2023 | 7:23 pm ET
By Brooklyn Draisey
Regents to consider requesting $15 million increase from lawmakers
The state Board of Regents will consider its request for a 3% increase in general education funding at its September meeting next week. (Photo illustration using images courtesy of the Iowa Board of Regents, Iowa State University, University of Iowa and University of Northern Iowa)

The state Board of Regents is set to request just under a $15 million increase in general education funds for the next fiscal year, less than half of what it asked for last year.

The regents will request a 3% increase in general university funding for the state’s three public universities, equaling $14.8 million for fiscal year 2025, according to regent documents. Added to the fiscal 2024 budget, the total request is $506.3 million.

The University of Iowa and Iowa State University would receive $4.5 million each. The University of Northern Iowa would receive the remaining $5.8 million.

Combined with appropriations for other regent university programs, state funding for the next fiscal year would grow from $580.7 million to $619 million. The board will consider the request at its Sept. 27-28 meetings. The request would need the approval of the Legislature in its 2024 session, which begins in January, and the governor’s signature.

“State funding for Regent higher education is a vital resource to attract students by keeping tuition affordable and allows the Regent universities to offer an extensive array of undergraduate, graduate and professional programs in support of Iowa workforce needs,” the document stated.

Iowa State University and the University of Iowa would use the additional $4.5 million each to combat rising costs of information technology hardware and software, utilities, and fuel as well as wages and personnel expenses, according to the regents report.

Funding would also go toward programs that help bolster student retention and graduation rates, maintaining competitive compensation plans, online programs, financial aid, and increasing merit and public safety negotiated contracts for employees.

The University of Iowa is also seeking a $10,000 increase in funding for its hygienic laboratory and an initial investment of $10 million into its new rural health care partnership. The partnership will work to expand the state’s health care workforce, expand health care delivery and reach to rural Iowans in need of services.

Iowa State University is asking for an additional $10 million to be put into its STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) Workforce program, which received $2.8 million last year.

The $5.8 million in increased funding would allow the University of Northern Iowa to keep tuition flat for the fiscal year, making the university more accessible to the low- and moderate-income students that make up a good portion of its student population. According to regent documents, nearly 30% of University of Northern Iowa undergraduates are Pell Grant recipients.

The University of Northern Iowa is requesting $500,000 for its new partner program with community colleges across the state, called UNI@IACC, which allows students to transition from receiving their associate’s degree from a community college to finishing their bachelor’s degree with the four-year university online. The university has already received $4.17 million in one-time federal American Rescue Plan program scale-up funds to launch the program. It is also requesting an additional $2.5 million for its Educators for Iowa program.

While the regents asked for a $32 million increase in general appropriations for fiscal year 2024, the Legislature kept the funding flat this past session. Regent universities raised tuition for the third year in a row this summer, a 3.5% hike for in-state, undergraduate students and at varying rates for graduate students.