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Release: Sept. 9, 1999

UI plan would fund student activities/services from fees rather than tuition

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- If a new University of Iowa plan is approved, student activities and services -- such as student government-sponsored activities, recreational services, Cambus and the student union -- will be funded from specific fees instead of tuition.

Meanwhile, tuition money formerly budgeted for those student activities and services will be redirected to support academic programs, including student financial aid, a program to improve students' writing skills and improvements to UI Libraries and instructional equipment.

The plan calls for increasing mandatory fees by $154 over the next two years -- $76 for 2000-01 and an additional $78 in 2001-02. When fully implemented, the new fees would generate about $3.8 million a year to cover the costs of student activities and services and would allow that same amount in tuition revenue to be applied to support for academic programs and student financial aid. The proposal must first be approved by the Board of Regents, State of Iowa. The board will consider the proposal at its monthly meeting Sept. 15 and 16 in Cedar Falls and again in October.

"I'm very excited about the prospects for this plan because it allows us to use tuition to invest in important improvements in our academic programs while at the same time maintaining support for important student services," said UI President Mary Sue Coleman. "This is in accord with the way other Big Ten universities provide funds to support non-academic student services. And even with the proposed increases, the University of Iowa's tuition and fees will remain the lowest in the Big Ten by a substantial margin."

In 1998-99, the most recent academic year for which there are comparison figures, student fees charged by public Big Ten universities ranged from $1,146 at Illinois to $202 charged at Iowa. For that same year, Minnesota students paid $616 and Wisconsin students paid $406.

This is how the UI wants to use the $3.8 million to improve academic programs over the next two years:

• $600,000 for student financial aid and financial aid services.

• $1.1 million to revitalize UI Libraries. That money will be used to expand library hours; to update library facilities, including furnishings; to hire full-time librarians in all collegiate branch libraries; and to hire specialists in electronic resources.

• $1 million for an initiative in comprehensive writing excellence that aims to maintain and enhance the UI's reputation as "The Writing University." It will include efforts to infuse writing throughout the curriculum and to offer a certificate in writing for advanced undergraduate study.

• $1.1 million for instructional equipment. This initiative will improve student access to specialized equipment and instruments in teaching labs. It will also be used to improve computing access.

Coleman has met with UI Student Government leaders to discuss the outlines of the fee proposal. Now that the issue is being taken up by the Board of Regents, she plans to have more detailed discussions with the UISG and other interested student groups.