Iowa universities seek $630.5 million from state taxpayers

(The Center Square) – Iowa’s three public universities are asking the Iowa State Board of Regents to request $630.46 million from the Iowa Legislature for the 2024 fiscal year on their behalf, a total featuring a $32 million bump over last year’s budget despite some school’s reporting slightly lower enrollment year-over-year.

The requests are on the Iowa State Board of Regents’ Sept. 15 agenda.

The higher education general university appropriations request is $523.6 million, which includes $491.6 million for fiscal year 2023 recurring appropriations, and $32 million in incremental appropriations for Iowa State, the University of Iowa, and University of Northern Iowa.

Iowa State’s general university appropriation would increase to $186.1 million, the highest in more than a decade, according to an Iowa State University news release. ISU’s enrollment is down approximately 2.5% from last year, according to numbers reported by the Des Moines Register.

Iowa State is asking for a $12 million (6.9%) increase for its general university appropriation and $376,519 more for biosciences innovation to fully fund the economic development platforms of bio-based chemicals, precision and digital agriculture, and vaccines and immunotherapies. Iowa State’s requests include $4 million for more degree and certificate programs for Iowa’s workforce and $3 million in research in rare-earth materials development and recycling. It’s also asking for $2 million in financial aid and support services for first-generation, resident undergraduates.

The University of Iowa is asking for $7 million in new support for increasing the nursing workforce in the state and $5 million for first-in-family college student outcomes.

University of Northern Iowa is asking for $8 million incremental funding for a $4 million-dollar plan to reduce tuition and $4 million to recruit more students into the teaching profession with a program modeled after the federal TEACH grant program, with annual grants to educator preparation students.

The Board of Regents is also considering $69.4 million for higher education legislative special purpose appropriations, $16.6 million for special school education operating appropriations, $13.5 million for economic development funding and $5.4 million for agricultural and natural resources appropriations.

Commonfund Institute’s Aug. 19 projection slated the Higher Education Price Index to increase 5.2%. It reported that the 2021 rate was 2.7% and the 2020 rate was 1.9%. The index involves higher education salaries, benefits, supplies and utilities.

“Similarly, the costs of nearly all services provided and goods purchased by the Regent Universities are rising. Examples include information technology hardware and software, food, utilities, fuel, collective bargained wages and personnel costs,” the requests agenda document said. “There is great concern about employee costs in a market heavily influenced by inflation, competition for quality talent, and labor shortages. Given the $594.9 million current appropriation amount to the Regents, a 5% inflation-based increase in state funding would equate to roughly $30 million in incremental funding.”

Public portions of the meeting will be livestreamed on the board’s website. The full agenda is posted there also.

The Board of Regents must submit appropriations requests by Oct. 1.

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