The "Guardrails" Tuition Model

The Board of Regents will consider approval of tuition and mandatory fees for the 2019-20 academic year at its June meeting. Representing the first official step in a five-year “guardrails” tuition model, the June vote will commence a plan for predictable, transparent tuition at Iowa’s public universities that was years in the making.

In 2017, the Board established its Tuition Task Force to facilitate public discussion of tuition at the Regents institutions. The task force charged the universities to develop a five-year tuition plan that provided predictability and sufficient resources, while acknowledging that the universities’ differing missions could mean varied tuition levels.

With these plans in tow, the Board requested an appropriation increase for FY2020 of $18 million to be used for financial aid to resident undergraduate students. The Iowa General Assembly and Governor Kim Reynolds approved an appropriation increase of $12 million.

The “guardrails” plan establishes three-percent tuition increases for resident undergraduates in each of the next five years at Iowa and Iowa State. If additional state appropriations are less than the Board’s request, resident undergraduate tuition will increase by more than three percent. Given the FY2020 appropriation increase, the Board’s 2019-20 tuition plan includes a 3.9 percent increase for resident undergraduates at Iowa and Iowa State, and no increase for resident undergraduates at UNI.

This plan accomplishes three important goals:

  • It provides predictability for Iowa students and families. Anyone looking for clarity on tuition at Iowa’s public universities can look to the Board’s June meeting every year.
  • It provides necessary resources for the Regent institutions to continue their long history of quality, affordable education.
  • It varies tuition across the three universities. UNI needs to be more competitive in pricing in comparison to other Midwest comprehensive universities. 

Tuition must work in concert with state appropriations and efficiencies to provide the total resources needed at Iowa’s public universities. A predictable, stable tuition model allows everyone - students, families and the universities themselves - to plan for the future.