The Iowa House of Representatives last week approved House File 604, the Education Appropriations bill. The legislation matches the governor’s recommendation of a 2.6 percent increase in general state aid for the three public universities as well as an additional $4 million for UNI. This means UNI would receive a 7.5 percent increase next year.
While this is just the first step in the budget process, it's particularly good news for students. Last fall, the Board of Regents, State of Iowa vowed to freeze resident undergraduate tuition for the upcoming school year if the Legislature approved a 2.6 percent increase and the special appropriation for UNI. This bill is a step in the right direction.
HF 604 also follows the governor’s recommendation of $4.7 million for STEM, science, technology, engineering and mathematics education. We are pleased with this continued support as UNI administers the STEM program, and I am honored to serve as co-chair of the STEM Executive Advisory Council with Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds.
Unfortunately HF 604 fails to provide an increase for UNI’s Real Estate program and Recycling and Reuse Technology Transfer Center. We had hoped these programs would also receive the 2.6 percent increase and will continue to urge the Legislature to approve additional funding.
Finally, HF 604 does not provide any funding for need-based financial aid for students. The public universities currently provide this assistance, but the Board of Regents promised to roll back tuition if the state began to cover the cost.
Members of the Iowa Senate are expected to unveil their education budget soon. Once they do, the two political parties can begin working on a compromise between the two plans.
We'll keep you updated as things move forward.