Regents Pleased with Branstad Funding Plan

By Diane Heldt, Reporter

IOWA CITY, Iowa - State Board of Regents leaders said Tuesday they're pleased that Gov. Terry Branstad's budget proposal for next year includes the necessary funding to move ahead with a tuition freeze already approved by the regents.

A statement from the board office released after Branstad highlighted his budget proposal in his condition of the state speech thanked the governor for "continued support" for the University of Iowa, Iowa State University and the University of Northern Iowa.

"We are extremely pleased the governor's budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2014 includes the necessary funding to enable the Board of Regents to freeze tuition rates for in-state undergraduate students next fall," the statement said. "This is a tremendous win for Iowa's students and families and the board is committed to working with the General Assembly to ensure these funds are approved."

The regents have approved for 2013-14 a tuition freeze for in-state undergraduate students, the first such freeze in more than 30 years. But board leaders said the freeze was contingent upon getting a 2.6 percent funding increase from the state for next year.

Branstad's proposal recommends more than $483 million in general education funding to the UI, ISU and UNI for Fiscal Year 2014, which starts July 1.

His proposal also includes a recommendation for a special $4 million appropriation to UNI, which is facing additional budget challenges because more than 90 percent of its enrollment is in-state students, who pay much less in tuition than nonresidents.

The governor does not recommend fully funding a regents request regarding a scholarship program for resident undergraduates at the three universities. The board requested $39.5 million in state money to launch that fund, which would replace tuition set-aside as a source of student aid money. But Branstad's proposal recommends only $5 million in funding for that purpose, with a call for the three university foundations to do what they can to raise the rest of the money.

The statement from the regents office said leaders are grateful the governor recognizes the importance of providing state funding for financial aid to Iowa's neediest students at the state's public universities.

"We will continue to advocate for a solution that allows the regent universities to provide the assistance necessary to keep college affordable for Iowa students," according to the statement.

Other highlights of Branstad's higher education proposal include $7.5 million in funding over the next two years for ISU's bioeconomy efforts and $9.75 million for the UI Dental Science Building renovation.
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