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Regents Approve Funding Model Change

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AMES, Iowa - The State Board of Regents voted almost unanimously Wednesday to change the way state funds are divided among Iowa’s three state universities. This despite a request from leaders at the University of Iowa leaders and faculty members to delay the decision in favor of further study.

The performance-based funding model bases 60% of state funding on recruiting in-state students. Smaller portions of state funds would be tied to student achievement, diverse student bodies, and graduate and professional students, among others. If immediately applied, Iowa State University would become the top-funded school in the state. The University of Iowa is expected to lose $47.8 million.

However, Professor Christina Bohannan, vice president of the University of Iowa’s Faculty Senate, sees this not as a detriment, but a challenge.

“Iowa resident students are smart, hard-working, they’re wonderful to teach, and so we’re excited about welcoming them to the university,” Bohannan told us in a phone interview.

One student we spoke with, sophomore Nathan Schuchert, agrees it makes sense for an Iowa school to put more focus on recruiting Iowans.

“I think it’s important to give a little priority to in-state kids,” Schuchert told us.

But others worry the move could alienate prospective out-of-staters.

“Bringing out-of-state is kind of important,” said freshman Siddig Siddig. “It kind of diversifies the students here a little bit.”

Classmate Cutler Simpson echoed that thought. “Obviously there is a big diversity from people in state in Iowa, but people from out-of-state also bring in their different cultures and experiences and backgrounds.”

However, Bohannan worries that the 5% cut for graduate and professional programs won’t be enough, due to higher costs to educate students in those areas.

“Particularly, we’re talking about professional schools, health sciences, those kinds of things.”

Bohannan heard the board discuss the possibility of tweaking the new funding model, possibly revisiting it on a yearly basis.

“We have some control over how the funding plays out, by how many Iowa students we recruit. And the fact is, I think when we turn up the heat on our recruiting effort, that we are going to be successful,” Bohannan told us.

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