Iowa’s Investment in Education Shrinking Over the Decades

AMES, Iowa  --  Governor Kim Reynolds is asking the Board of Regents to find another way to deal with budget problems instead of raising tuition.  School presidents say a lack of state funding is forcing their hands and students are caught in the middle.

In the last week both the University of Iowa and Iowa State University announced they're seeking 7% tuition increases annually for the next five years.  They say state funding is mostly flat and not keeping up with increasing costs and inflation.

In 1971 Iowa State University got nearly three-quarters of its budget from state funding.  In 2016 just 26% of the school's funding came from state dollars.  In 2000 the state of Iowa gave schools $10,910 per student.  Sixteen years later schools are getting just $10,904 per student.

"It's not fair to them I think," said Emily Behrend, an ISU junior, "I mean everyone deserves a college education because it's what you need to survive in society today."  Behrend is going to school on a scholarship and calls herself one of the lucky ones.

The problem is not likely to be corrected in the coming legislative session.  Lawmakers may be needed for a special session next month to approve funding just to balance last year's books.  The Revenue Estimating Conference has consistently downgraded tax revenue for the state in the last year.  That will likely lead to an even tighter state budget next year than last.