Budgets approved for three state universities

DES MOINES — The board that governs the three state universities approved budgets for the schools that includes $1.66 billion in general operating expenses. 

University of Iowa president Barbara Wilson talked about her budget, including special funding from the state for the nursing program. “The main thing we’re going to do with that funding, $2.8 million, is to hire additional faculty, and retain those that we have so that we can grow our student body. We have clear accreditation requirements there. and so this funding will allow us to grow the faculty and in turn allow us to add 48 nursing students per year,” Wilson says.

She says that will get the university to 208 students per class by 2026, which is a 30% percent increase over four years. Wilson says they also will put more funding toward student aid. “We know that student aid and student debt are critical issues for us, they’re critical issues for public higher ed across the country,” Wilson says. “We’re happy to report that we’re going to increase our student aid by $8.1 million internally. That doesn’t count the amount of money that our very generous donors are providing for student scholarships.”

Wilson says the goal is to help students keep down their debt.  The UI’s general operating budget is $802 million.

University of Northern Iowa president Mark Nook says they are also working to address the nursing shortage as their new program approaches. “Renovation is underway to create a state of the art nursing facility should be completed in time for the launch of the program by next fall,” he says.

Nook says they are also working on the teacher shortage and have created several new programs.  “One of those programs is the Purple Pathway for Paraeducators. This is a program that opened just a year ago, and about half of that is supported by the teacher peer educator registered apprenticeship opportunity that was also made available by the state,” he says. 

He says it is designed to make it easier on the students in the program. “This program allows current paraeducators in a school system to complete their coursework on-line to become certified teachers, receive a baccalaureate degree and do their student teaching at the institution in the school district that they’re currently working in. So there’s no need for them to relocate,” Nook says. UNI’s general operating budget is $167 million.

Iowa State University president Wendy Wintersteen says they are focusing on their strategic plan and the  new recruitment campaign “Cyclone in the Making.”  She says they had 14,000 students at summer orientation. “We’re seeing a significant increase in demand for on campus housing. We had to reopen Wilson Hall with double occupancy rooms to accommodate the number of students who want to live on campus,” she says.

Wintersteen says they also opened up a new way for students to apply. “And within the first six hours from midnight to 6 a-m, 30 students applied for fall 2024 for admission. So if you’re wondering what students are doing from midnight to 6am, some of them are actually applying to go to college,” Wintersteen says.  The ISU general operating budget is $691 million.

The Regents received the same amount of state money for the new budget as they got the year before. They recently voted to raise tuition by 3.5%  for the next year.