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IOWA CITY, Iowa (March 8, 2012) — Tuition and state funding have switched places in their role covering costs at Iowa's public universities, as state budget cuts that hammered the state's Regents institutions force parents and students to pay more.
A new report from the nonpartisan Iowa Policy Project (IPP) finds that it takes over eight weeks of work at the statewide average weekly wage just to cover a semester’s worth of undergraduate, in-state tuition at Iowa’s public universities, on average.
“Students and their parents watching rapid increases in tuitions over the past two decades at Iowa’s state universities need to understand there is a cause-and-effect when the state backs off its funding of those institutions,” said IPP Research Associate Andrew Cannon, author of the report. “Budget cuts toward these schools matter, and they are real.”
While Iowa lawmakers have agreed for decades that public education merited significant state investment, the Regents institutions have been hit as overall education funding has remained at about 60 percent of General Fund appropriations.
“The difference is that universities are drawing less of a share of those funds,” Cannon said. “In 2000, the Regents' share was almost 15 percent. In 2012, it's less than 9 percent of the state's General Fund. This is hundreds of millions of dollars — and you don't even have to adjust for inflation to see it. Iowa spent less in 2012 on its public universities than in any year since 1996. The impact of inflation only intensifies this trend, especially for both the University of Iowa and Iowa State.”
The report shows, for example, that the U of I in 2012 received about $210 million in state funding, falling from a peak of nearly $360 million in 1999 when adjusting earlier funding levels for inflation. On a per-student basis, state support has fallen from 1990 to 2011 in real (2011) dollars by over $5,000 at ISU and the U of I, and about $2,700 at the University of Northern Iowa.
“The state’s commitment clearly has waned to this important element of our economy and our culture, and Iowa families are paying for it,” Cannon said.
Cannon said a coming report will look at trends in community college and other higher-education funding in the state.
The Iowa Fiscal Partnership is a joint public policy analysis initiative of two Iowa-based, nonpartisan, nonprofit organizations, IPP in Iowa City and the Child & Family Policy Center in Des Moines. Neither organization is affiliated with the state of Iowa or state universities. Reports are available at www.iowafiscal.org.
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For more information about Iowa fiscal issues, visit the Iowa Fiscal Partnership at www.iowafiscal.org.
The Iowa Fiscal Partnership is a joint initiative of two nonpartisan, Iowa-based organizations, the Iowa Policy Project in Iowa City and the Child & Family Policy Center in Des Moines.