October 7, 2013

Iowa Senate Democrats announced recently that they would push for a tuition freeze at Iowa's three state universities for the second year in a row.

The current year's tuition freeze was the first in three decades. It was made possible in part by a 2.6 percent increase in operating appropriations from the state, said Iowa Board of Regents member Nicole Carroll, of Carroll. This funding helps the universities deal with rising costs of education without passing them to the students.

"All undergraduate resident students receive a significant benefit from the lower cost of tuition, and each student experiences this benefit differently," said Carroll in an email statement.

Stable tuition rates improve access and affordability for students, which helps contain costs, time to graduation and debt levels, she added.

"Our goal is to make the educational experience as affordable as possible," she said.

This year, the board is requesting a 4 percent increase in funding to accommodate a second year of the tuition freeze. The freeze would impact local students and graduates as they plan for short-term costs and long-term student-loan debt, said Carroll.

Support for a tuition freeze would require a bipartisan effort between the Iowa House and Senate as well as the governor's office.

Iowa Rep. Dan Muhlbauer, D-Manilla, said a tuition freeze is not the way to move education forward.

"We have schools looking at closing doors over funding. The state needs to step up, do more to keep them open," he said, adding that though he doesn't currently support another tuition freeze, he'd "never say never."

Iowa Sen. Mark Segebart, R-Vail, said he would support his Senate colleagues in calling for a tuition freeze.

"College education is very expensive, and whatever we can do to lower student debt should be addressed," he said.