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Proposed bill would create commission to study payment of tuition at Iowa colleges


This news story was published on January 24, 2014.
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Iowa State University (via facebook)

Iowa State University (via facebook)

DES MOINES – An Iowa City lawmaker has introduced a bill in the Iowa Senate to direct the state board of regents and the department of education to convene a commission consisting of representatives of the community colleges and the institutions of higher education governed by the board to conduct two studies regarding financing strategies related to payment of tuition and fees at public post-secondary institutions.

In the bill penned by Senator Joe Bolkcom, the commission would be directed to study the feasibility of creating an alternative payment pilot program to replace the current system of charging students tuition and fees for enrollment at public institutions of higher learning. With regard to the pilot program study, the commission would be directed to, at a minimum, review issues relating to funding sources for the pilot program, student payments under the pilot program, the scope of the pilot program in regards to participation of students and academic programs, data collection under the pilot program, and the manner in which the pilot program may function with federal and state financial aid programs.

University of Iowa

University of Iowa

Furthermore, the commission would be directed to review the “pay forward, pay back” pilot program considered by the Oregon education coordinating commission. The proposed pilot program submitted by the commission shall allow students who are residents of this state, and who qualify for admission, to enroll in the participating institution without paying tuition or fees; provided that, in lieu of paying tuition or fees, students sign binding contracts to pay to the state or the participating institution a certain percentage of the student’s annual adjusted gross income upon graduation from the participating institution for a specified number of years.

The pilot program would specify the methodology by which the number of years and the percentage of annual adjusted gross income for contracts shall be determined and base the specifications on research to date and to establish an immediate funding source for the first 15 to 20 years of the pilot program, which is to include the establishment of a revolving fund to deposit payments made under the pilot program. The proposed pilot program may vary by institution depending on the total cost of education at the participating institution and the portion of the cost that is paid by the state.

UNI

UNI

The commission is also directed to study the question of whether the state’s public post-secondary institutions can successfully implement a tuition freeze that will guarantee that incoming undergraduate students have the same tuition rate for four years. The study must include an analysis of a tuition promise program offered by western Oregon university, the finish in four program proposed in Florida and similar programs, and ways of mitigating the financial strain that the adoption of a tuition freeze would place on an institution’s finances.

The commission would be required to submit its findings and recommendations in a report to the state board of education, the state board of regents, the governor, and the general assembly by January 15, 2015.  The bill is being studied in committee at this time.

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