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October 25, 2013

Iowa governor says he'd love a 2nd tuition freeze

IOWA CITY— Gov. Terry Branstad said Thursday that he would love to support a freeze in tuition rates for in-state undergraduates at Iowa’s three public universities for a second straight year.

Speaking to the Iowa Board of Regents, Branstad stopped short of endorsing the board’s proposal to freeze tuition in exchange for a 4 percent increase in general state funding for the University of Iowa, Iowa State University and the University of Northern Iowa. He said he would have to review state revenue estimates in December and all other funding requests as he puts together his proposed state budget, which will be unveiled in January.

But he applauded the board for freezing tuition for in-state undergraduates for the current school year, for the first time in three decades. He said he would like to see it continue for a second year, which would be the first such back-to-back freeze since 1975.

He said the plans were part of an effort to help Iowa families afford tuition after “dramatic increases” over the last 10 or 12 years.

“Many of our students today are very concerned about being saddled with unmanageable debt on graduation,” he said during the meeting at the University of Iowa student union.

The board, which governs the universities, is considering a plan to freeze tuition rates for resident undergraduates at $6,678 at Iowa and $6,648 at ISU and UNI. The plan is contingent on lawmakers approving the 4 percent funding increase during the session next spring. The universities got a similar funding increase to allow the freeze for the current school year.

Key board members on Thursday expressed support for the plan, which is expected to gain final approval in December. Regents warned, as they have in the past, that they could cancel the freeze and approve tuition increases next year if the budget approved by lawmakers doesn’t include the increased funding.

Board President Bruce Rastetter told reporters that it should be easier this time to convince lawmakers to support the plan than last year.

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