DES MOINES - Gov. Chet Culver expressed concerns Monday about using tuition increases or implementing a tuition surcharge to help the state's public universities deal with steep cuts in state funding.

The Iowa Board of Regents is slated to meet Thursday in Cedar Falls and will discuss a proposed a 6 percent base tuition increase for resident graduate and undergraduate students for the 2010-11 school year.

"I expect there will be a lot of divergent views on the tuition increase option," Culver told reporters.

The board's agenda also includes discussion of a temporary $100 tuition surcharge that would apply to full-time students at the University of Iowa, University of Northern Iowa and Iowa State University for the 2010 spring semester.

The surcharge would be pro-rated for part-time students based on the number of credit hours they are taking.

The board is not expected to take action on either proposal until its Dec. 10 meeting.

Culver has ordered a 10 percent budget cut throughout state government to deal with a larger-than-expected drop in state revenues.

The state's three public universities are being forced to slash $58 million from their budgets and are looking for ways to make up the shortfall.

A $100 surcharge, if applied to all three universities, is expected to generate $5.7 million and make up for about 10 percent of the lost state appropriations.

When asked about the idea of a surcharge, Culver said he wanted to get the reaction of members of the board of regents.

"These students, their families are going through very difficult times in most cases during this recession, and I think we have to be very careful not to try to raise tuition and fees on students during this budget-cutting process," Culver said. "It's important that we, I believe, strike the right balance, and that's what I'll be conveying to President (David) Miles of the board of regents."

The governor said it is important the board puts options on the table to consider.

"This was just one option that they have, and I expect a thorough discussion about it," Culver said.

Board member Bonnie Campbell said she is reluctant to make a judgment on the prospect of a tuition increase before hearing how the universities are addressing the budget crisis.

"It affects every student who goes to our public universities, and so I want to be thoughtful and considerate as we go through this discussion, and I honestly just plain don't have an opinion at this point," Campbell said.

She also wants to hear what the implications are if no tuition increase goes into effect.

"It's always a balancing act, and I just feel the need to get as complete a picture as I possibly can before I go very far down the road of making any decision," Campbell said.


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