Thursday, June 8, 2017

President Jacob Simpson addressed the Iowa Board of Regents on Thursday, June 6, in regard to the Regents' recent announcement of tuition increases for public universities of Iowa. “Tuition plans should be guided by demonstrated institutional needs," President Simpson said, "and the product must be rooted in the betterment of our university, centered around student success.”


You can read Simpson's full statement below:


Today is the kick-off for the tuition task force. I applaud the Board for establishing a task force that will make it possible for students and families to plan for tuition expenses.

The universities have been charged with developing five-year tuition plans, and regarding the creation of those plans, I have one point to stress: the amount of additional revenue that the universities wish to achieve over the five years must be based on demonstrated institutional needs in alignment with our goal of student success.

Since its inception, the University of Iowa has provided valuable opportunities for students to achieve their academic and personal potentials. At present, students from all corners of Iowa have access to a vast array of affordable, world-class programs of study offered by the University of Iowa—from creative writing to chemical engineering.

Maintaining accessibility, affordability, and quality will be critical to the development of the tuition plans. In fact, the development of these plans opens possibilities for investing in financial aid and scholarships, high-impact practices, innovative curricula, and diversity and inclusion initiatives. Improvements in these areas will make a University of Iowa degree worth even more to students’ personal and professional lives.

However, these exciting possibilities must be met with pragmatism. The University of Iowa is already more accessible and affordable than its peers, and we know that we must be cautious with increases in tuition as they will decrease access and affordability. We must ask the questions: Who will have access to a University of Iowa education? Who will be able to afford a University of Iowa education? Neglect for these questions will build barriers between the University of Iowa and hopeful first-time, low-income, and under-served students who wish to take advantage of and contribute to public higher education.

Through financial aid, specifically, we have a mechanism to maintain access and affordability for students who cannot afford rising tuition. Therefore, I request that the University of Iowa publish how it intends to spend additional tuition revenue. Without holding concurrent discussions of tuition increases and how the additional revenue will be spent, the myriad stakeholders will not be able to adequately assess how accessible and affordable the University of Iowa will remain over time.

There must be a better balance struck between investment in student success and research. In a presentation to the Board a couple months ago, President Harreld estimated that we need $154-$164 million in additional revenue by FY22 in order to accomplish the Strategic Plan; 90% of the additional revenue was estimated to be spent on research. I value our stature as a R1 research institution, but investment in student success cannot be set aside as a budget priority.

In conclusion, the development of the tuition plans should be guided by demonstrated institutional needs, and the product must be rooted in the betterment of our university, centered around student success. We must stay committed to the Board’s mission of affordable, accessible, and quality higher education.