The three public universities in Iowa want more money from the state not only to cover record inflation, but also to support first-year classes and first-generation students who have shown promise for growth amid overall declines in student enrollment.
Iowa State University, the University of Iowa, and the University of Northern Iowa together are asking the Iowa Board of Governors for an additional $32 million in credits for the upcoming fiscal year. The Board will consider the application at its next meeting in Cedar Falls on Wednesday and Thursday.
The three universities cite inflation as the main reason for the additional funding. Consumer prices rose about 9% from June 2021 to June 2022 – the highest level in 40 years.
According to Information to be provided Before the governors later this week, there was a 5% increase in the higher education price index between June 2021 and June 2022. If the governors approve new budgets based on the 5% inflation rate, universities will get another $30 million next year, The document says.
Instead, officials are asking for an additional $2 million to meet rising costs for “nearly all services rendered and merchandise purchased by Regent’s universities.”
“There is significant concern about staff costs in a market that is severely affected by inflation, competition for high-quality talent and labor shortages,” the document said.
The proposed increase of $32 million in higher education appropriations, plus another $3.5 million in proposed increases for programs that fall under the Board of Governors budget authority, will bring the Board’s total appropriations for the fiscal year to $630 million.
The current year’s budget is $594.9 million.
From this pool, universities currently receive about $491.5 million for higher education. The rest is spread across agricultural research and outreach, state schools for deaf or blind students, economic development, public health care and health testing services, and the Iowa Flood Warning System, among other programs.
If approved, the universities will receive $523.5 million in the next fiscal year.
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While inflation is the basis for increasing credits, universities also have plans to use the funds to support their freshmen and first generation college students.
How do Iowa universities want to support first-generation students?
The three Iowa public universities are still seeing declines in enrollment numbers, with the exception of the University of Iowa, which this year added 106 students.
But all are encouraged by the increasing number of new students enrolled in their universities.
more:Enrollment in 2022: University of Iowa only for acquiring students; ISU sees the most diverse categories of freshmen
The Iowa freshman class of 5,728 students in 2022 leads the pre-COVID-19 freshman class of 5,597 in the fall of 2019, according to the Board of Trustees. Report.
Iowa’s freshman class of 5,178 students — the third largest in the university’s history — also topped the size of the last incoming class before the pandemic, which was 4,970 students.
While the increased size of freshman classes is a sign of hope, the University of Iowa notes in its accreditation applications to the Board of Regents that administrators also hope to attract first-generation students.
“Students who are the first to enter college in the family have lower retention and graduation rates than peers with family members with college experience,” notes to the referees.
In the past five years, about one in five college students in Iowa have been the first to go to college in their family, many of whom come from the state’s rural areas, according to the university.
Iowa wants $5 million to expand a pilot program launched two years ago to support first generation Hawkeyes in a program called “First Gen Hawks.”
The $1 million will be used to expand experiential learning, training, mentoring, and social engagement activities in the four-year program to 250 students instead of 100. The other $4 million creates 250 scholarships of $4,000 each.
Meanwhile, last fall, 19% of undergraduate students in Iowa were first-generation college students. The university would like $2 million to expand the unmet financial aid and academic support needs of those students.
What other things are Iowa universities seeking more money for?
Overall, the University of Iowa is asking the state for an additional $12 million this year.
In addition to expanding the first-generation student program, $7 million will be allocated to renovate the nurse training space, with the goal of adding an additional 48 nursing students annually, or a 30% increase within four years.
Iowa’s $12 million request includes $4 million to expand degree and certificate programs in artificial intelligence, cyber security, computer science and engineering, and other high-tech fields.
Iowa is also requesting $3 million to support research into the resilience of the rare earth mineral supply chain; $2 million to retain faculty and staff on digital agriculture, water quality, and vaccine delivery technologies; and $1 million to expand mental health, suicide prevention, and student counseling programs.
Northern Iowa wants $4 million to help keep tuition rates competitive with Iowa and Iowa, and another $4 million to recruit more students to become teachers.
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Phillip Sitter covers education in the Ames Tribune, including Iowa State University and PreK-12 schools in Ames and elsewhere in Storey County. Philip can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. He is on Twitter @pslifeisabeauty.