Shortly before graduating from North Scott High School in 2015, I considered an offer to attend Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. For several weeks, I agonized over my decision between the University of Iowa and Georgetown.
When it came down to it, however, I knew the value of an education at the University of Iowa was unrivaled. I knew that with scholarships, I could graduate from the University of Iowa with a student debt of $0—and that was priceless. Despite all the prestige behind Georgetown’s name, I am proud to now study international relations and Spanish at the University of Iowa.
A week before classes began at the University of Iowa this year, however, it was announced the university intends to increase tuition by 41 percent over the next five years. I pay $7,486 each year for base tuition as a University of Iowa student. This does not include nearly $1,500 in annual fees.
An increase of this proportion means that an in-state student in the class of 2028 will be paying $10,537 a year for base tuition, amounting to a whopping $42,148 over four years. And no, that figure does not include room and board.
The University of Iowa prides itself on providing a high-quality education while keeping tuition costs low as compared to other flagship universities around the country. The result? High school graduates in Iowa stay in Iowa, invest in Iowa, and contribute to the local economy. Data published in The Washington Post indicates 87 percent of Iowa high school graduates enrolled in college remain within the state’s borders.
In neighboring Wisconsin and Minnesota, that number is 81 percent and 72 percent, respectively. The figure is even more abysmal in Illinois, where a mere 71 percent of graduates choose to remain in state for college.
In the words of Gov. Kim Reynolds “there is no way Iowa families could afford” the proposed increase. Across rural expanses of much of the state and inner-city neighborhoods are thousands of low-income families whose prospects of sending children to one of Iowa’s state schools are lowered by the additional $12,204 tacked onto the cost of four years of college.
Simply put, the proposed tuition increase is prohibitively expensive for low-income and often marginalized communities. It is crystal clear who will bear the brunt of this price tag—and it will not be families where a college degree is the status quo.
Decreased state appropriations equates increased pressure on the Iowa Board of Regents, which equates higher tuition for students. It is our Iowa Legislature’s responsibility to ensure Iowa universities have enough funding to support the edge that makes Iowa a world-class institution.
When the Legislature failed to do so and instead passed $15.4 million in cuts earlier this year, they knew someone down the line was going to lose out. It was the Iowa Board of Regents’ responsibility to ensure that students are not that someone. In that, they failed.
Twelve-thousand and two-hundred and four dollars in additional costs for students is out of touch with the reality of Iowa families. I encourage readers to write to legislators and the Iowa Board of Regents to tell your story, and demand a pragmatic, student-focused approach to university tuition.