Regents' Report Shows Cost, Financial Aid Increase at Public Universities

By Vanessa Miller, Reporter

IOWA CITY, Iowa - As the cost to attend one of Iowa's three public universities has risen over the years, so has the volume of student financial aid, according to a report to the Board of Regents made public Tuesday.

In the 2012-13 school year, financial aid — in the form of grants, loans and campus employment — totaled $998.3 million at the three universities combined. That represented an increase of $5.1 million, or .5 percent, over the prior year, and it was $182.2 million — or 22.3 percent — above the 2008-09 school year, according to the report.

Funding from the institutions — University of Iowa, Iowa State University and University of Northern Iowa — accounted for the biggest increase during that time. Federal funding for student financial aid also increased while state financial aid funding fell from $9.6 million in 2008-09 to $6.1 in 2012-13, according to the report.

The report comes as state legislators weigh an education spending bill that would boost funding for the regent universities by 4 percent in the 2015 budget year — in an effort to keep a tuition freeze in place — and as the Board of Regents embarks on an efficiency review to cut costs across its university campuses.

Regents say administrators need to find efficiencies to account for the changes in higher education support over the years. Tuition today makes up a much larger portion of the universities' general education budgets than in the past.

In the 2012 budget year, for example, state money accounted for 36 percent of the general university funding for the three public universities compared with 64 percent in the 2001 budget year. Student tuition, conversely, made up 59 percent of the general university funding in 2012, up from 31 percent in 2001.

Regarding student financial aid awarded in the 2012-13 school year, federal funds made up about 55 percent, institutional funds made up about 35 percent, "other" sources made up about 9.5 percent, and state funds made up about .6 percent, according to the report.

About 48 percent came in the form of student loans, nearly 32 percent came in the form of scholarships or grants, and 20 percent came in the form of employment, the report shows.

Upon graduation, according to the report, the national average indebtedness for students leaving public four-year institutions was $25,500 in the 2011-12 school year, up from $11,653 in the 2007-08 school year.

For UI graduates in 2012-13, the average indebtedness was $27,304 — above the national average and higher than the previous year's average of 26,296. The average indebtedness for ISU students and UNI students in 2012-13 fell slightly, according to the report.

In the 2012-13 school year, 76 percent of UI students received financial aid, and 85 percent of Iowa State and UNI students received aid. The UI had 61 percent of its students graduate with debt that year, while ISU graduated 65 percent with debt and UNI graduated 76 percent with debt, according to the report.
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