State Senator Steve Sodders of State Center today announced that he will help lead an effort next year in the Iowa Senate to extend the current tuition freeze at Iowa's public universities for an unprecedented third year.
"Making college more affordable for Iowa families is one of the best ways to help build a higher skill, higher wage Iowa economy," said Sodders. "Bipartisan Legislative majorities made it possible to freeze tuition for the 2013-14 and 2014-15 school years. My goal is to repeat that success for the 2015-16 school year. The state budget is in good shape, and our reserve funds are full. We can afford to increase state support to the universities rather than asking Iowa families to pay more in tuition."
Fall of 2013 was the first time in more than 30 years in which Iowa families did not see an increase in undergraduate tuition at Iowa's three public universities: Iowa State University, the University of Iowa and the University of Northern Iowa. That bipartisan accomplishment was repeated for the school year that begins this fall.
These tuition freezes directly help lower the amount of students have to borrow. According to the Iowa College Student Aid Commission, just over six out of every 10 graduates in 2013 from Iowa's regent universities left school with student loan debt. The average debt was $28,293 per student.
"Iowa families should encourage their local lawmakers to join this push for the 'Tuition Freeze Three-peat'," said Sodders. "Iowa is building a highly skilled workforce for the 21st century. Helping families send their children to our great Iowa universities will help reach that goal."
Sodders said Iowa Valley Community College and Hawkeye Community College and Iowa's private colleges will also benefit from increased state investment as part of the bipartisan push for improved workforce skills.
"I helped pass an $8 million increase for community colleges and more financial aid for private college students," said Sodders. "This was in addition to the $40.3 million the Legislature and Governor Branstad decided this spring to invest in job training and skill enhancement, much of which will take place at our community colleges."