State appropriation request to support world-class and affordable education

State appropriation request to support world-class and affordable education 

The University of Northern Iowa held steady as the Midwest’s #2-ranked public regional university while our computer science program, veteran-friendliness and overall value ratings increased substantially in annual rankings published this week by U.S. News & World Report.

Monday’s rankings are the latest positive news for UNI. Our incoming freshman class size has increased for the second-straight year and our graduation rates are at all-time highs – nearly 20 percentage points higher than those of similar universities. One in 14 UNI students graduate in just three years, also a record. UNI graduates also have the second-lowest average debt of graduates from all four-year colleges and universities in Iowa.

“As a university, we focus on working to continually improve our world-class, affordable educational experience while making the campus a welcoming place for all,” said President Mark A. Nook. “It’s gratifying to see the hard work our faculty, staff and students put into making the University of Northern Iowa an excellent campus recognized once again.”

UNI Campanile

To continue this high quality and accessible education, at its September meeting, the Board of Regents is asking the Iowa Legislature for an additional $4 million of state appropriations be appropriated to UNI’s general operating budget for fiscal year 2023. As the State of Iowa’s only comprehensive public university, UNI is making strides to maintain affordability and accessibility. This $4 million will help us hold tuition rates flat for the 2022-23 academic year.

Funding for a new UNI initiative is also being requested to help Iowa’s workforce. In partnership with Iowa’s community colleges, UNI proposes easing the process for place-bound learners to move from an associate’s degree to a bachelor’s degree. The request for the UNI@Community College degree attainment program is $1.6 million with the primary focus on workforce development, serving the needs of the local community and helping them grow their workforce.

This request will help solidify UNI’s current pilot program partnership UNI@DMACC for place-bound students to move to a bachelor’s degree at the same tuition rate as their associate’s degree at the DMACC urban campus in Des Moines. The overwhelming majority of the funding is planned for scholarships and grants for students for three primary areas: tuition leveling to allow students the same/similar tuition rate as they progress from a community college to UNI, fill financial need gaps for students and provide paid internships to build the workforce. The program can easily be scaled-up to other community colleges in the future.

The remaining fiscal year 2023 state appropriations requests for UNI are to maintain level funding. These include economic development and entrepreneurship, additive manufacturing, STEM, real estate education, the recycling and reuse center and the Industrial Technology Center modernization.

Our appropriation requests will be considered during the next legislative session when the Iowa General Assembly convenes on Monday, January 10, 2022.