Iowa students who choose to attend the state’s public colleges and universities may soon be able to enjoy a permanent discount of $1,000 or more on tuition. According to a proposal by the Iowa Board of Regents, if the state implements a grant program for students in need, the discount will become a reality.
The Iowa Board of Regents is asking the Legislature to award $39.5 million to implement a grant programs for Iowa undergrad students who can demonstrate financial need. The board believes that this grant is necessary to eliminate scholarships paid for by tuition dollars in the amount of $150 million. Under the current policy, about 20% of tuition paid is earmarked to pay scholarships to other students. If the Iowa legislature okays the request, the state college and university system will be able to reduce tuition by 18%, or around $1,000 for each student.
The Board of Regents believes that offering this tuition discount will make higher education more affordable for all Iowa students, and that it will show the state legislature that the university system is not looking to increase their own revenue. Regent David miles believes that this is the ideal solution to ease the financial burden of college for both lower and middle income students.
Skeptics of the plan state that the proposed grant amount will leave a $100 million dollar shortfall in the amount of aid currently being offered to students in need. The Board of Regents states that this shortfall can be covered by university fundraising efforts and that no students in need will be left out in the cold. Currently, about 45% of college and university students receive financial assistance, so Regent Bruce Rastetter has stated that he wants all university foundations to submit proposals by next month that will detail the amount of money they can plausibly raise. Ideally, he feels that foundations should be able to provide at least $14 million in merit scholarships each year, which will require each school to raise well in excess of that amount.