President Allen outlines five-year Iowa State University tuition plan

AMES, Iowa – Iowa State University Interim President Benjamin Allen presented a plan to the Iowa Board of Regents Tuition Task Force on Wednesday (Aug. 9) that would increase resident undergraduate tuition by 7 percent in each of the next five years. If approved by the regents, that would add $522 to the base tuition starting in fall 2018, and gradually rise to $684 more per year by fall 2022.

The proposal also recommended a 4 percent increase for nonresident undergraduates and differential adjustments for students majoring in engineering, business and some science, technology and experiential learning programs that have a higher cost of delivery.

Iowa State’s proposal is based on four assumptions, Allen said:

  • Flat general operating state appropriations
  • Flat enrollment
  • A Higher Education Price Index (HEPI) rate of 2.14 percent – an average of the higher education inflation rate over the past five years
  • An even more rigorous approach to efficiency, with the university committing 2.25 percent in annual cost reallocations. That will be challenging, Allen noted, as ISU administrative spending per student is already 66 percent less than all other land-grant institutions.

State support declines as enrollment climbs

Since 2009, enrollment at Iowa State has surged by 37 percent, with general operating state appropriations per resident student declining 30 percent over the same period. Last year, Iowa State received $3,700 less in state support per resident student than in 2009.

The imbalance has “stretched employees and resources to the breaking point,” Allen said. The quality of an Iowa State education, the university’s contributions to the state’s economy and workforce, and its momentum in offering some of the nation’s top-ranked programs are all at risk without adequate resources, he added.

Four strategic priorities

Allen outlined four strategic priorities requiring new investment to protect a quality student experience:

  • Competitive faculty and staff salaries and reasonable annual increases to retain top employees.
  • A net increase of 330 new faculty members to achieve a 16:1 student-to-faculty ratio, currently at 19.5:1.
  • 900,000 square feet of new building capacity, and the ability to address deferred maintenance issues.
  • Additional, proportional investments in need-based financial aid, making sure Iowa State remains accessible to eligible students.

“We have established a five-year tuition proposal that provides the resources to make significant progress on our strategic priorities, and we believe it is a proactive, reasonable approach for our students and their families,” Allen told the task force. “It will allow us to make new investments to maintain high educational quality and protect the value of an Iowa State degree.”

The public meeting was the beginning of a budget process the four-member task force intends to make tuition more predictable and less reactionary for students and their families. The Board of Regents created the task force after Iowa’s three public universities realized $30.3 million in state cuts during the last legislative session. Joining task force chair Larry McKibben are regents Milt Dakovich (vice chair), Sherry Bates and Nancy Boettger.

The task force held a similar meeting at the University of Northern Iowa on Aug. 7, and will hear the University of Iowa’s long-range tuition proposal on Aug. 14.

McKibben has said the goal is to submit a final report to the full Board of Regents at its Sept. 7 meeting. 

                            Iowa State undergraduate tuition proposal


Undergraduates Fall 2018 Fall 2019 Fall 2020 Fall 2021 Fall 2022
7% increase $522 $558 $598 $639 $684
Base tuition $7,978 $8,536 $9,134 $9,773 $10,457
4% increase $852 $886 $921 $958 $996
Base tuition $22,144 $23,029 $23,951 $24,909 $25,905

                                 Fall 2017 tuition: Resident: $7,456; nonresident $21,292