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ENCORE: Should Students (or Their Families) be Forced to Pay College Tuition for Other Students?

Tuition set asides leaves some students accruing debt to pay for other students to attend school.

For decades now, thousands of Iowa's public university students have been paying part of the tuition for peers. 

Are they paying hundreds of dollars more each year toward another student's bill because they are altruistic? No. It's because they have no choice. 

"I had no idea that the Iowa Universities were diverting tuition dollars," a constituent wrote to State Rep. Jeff Kaufmann, R-Wilton, who shared the letter. "I have two kids at the (University of Iowa). It is rather upsetting that my kids as well as my wife and I are borrowing money to pay for their tuition at the UI and some of that tuition is being diverted to other students."

Call for Comment: Should students be forced to pay for other students to go to college. Weigh in in the comment section below.

The practice is referred to as a "tuition set aside." It is used in Iowa and many other states for financial aid.

Iowa's university policy requires setting aside for financial aid at minimum 15 percent of tuition paid by students at the three state universities. For the upcoming school year, University of Iowa, Iowa State University and University of Northern Iowa will set aside on average 21.5 percent of tuition to fund mainly need-based, but also merit-based, scholarships. This is then distributed to less than half the student body.

For their part, regents challenge the idea that one student is paying bills of another.

“It’s not necessarily that you’re taking it out of my pocket, although they think they are taking it out of their pocket,” Regent Craig Lang told the Ames Tribune. “I think the point is being lost...”

Universities generate $49 million for financial aid

The universities and the Iowa Board of Regents proudly tout the efforts to keep the doors open to all Iowans and maintain "access and affordability."

"The Regents increased the commitment to student financial aid to record
levels, ensuring access to the public universities for all Iowans regardless of means," the regents reported in the latest tuition plan. "In the last three fiscal years, Regent universities have continued to exceed the minimum required 15 percent set aside of gross tuition proceeds for student financial aid by nearly $130 million."

That amounts to $49 million in fiscal 2012, according to the report.

Recently, began zeroing in on this program and have been raising questions.

Why should one student be forced to pay tuition for another while Iowa has among the highest student debt in the nation? Iowa university students are walking away with nearly $28,000 in debt, according to a recent Des Moines Register report.

So where do you stand? Should universities continue to set aside tuition to help people with less means go to school?

CFBusinessOwner April 21, 2012 at 07:55 PM
True, an appealing physical campus is important but looking at the big picture I think it's important to start with the basics that make a great university: top notch full-time faculty---not a university full of adjuncts. And as far as private funding goes---it's great if folks want to donate, but how many "donor-shrines" does a university need? Isn't it time the development folks spoke up and steered folks to donating funds to go towards research, endowing department chairs,scholarships. etc? Granted, these aren't ego stroking kinds of donations but if we don't do this we'll end up with a campus full of empty shiny new buildings.
Tracey Makela May 04, 2012 at 10:09 PM
President Obama's quote in the Press Citizen (April 26) from his speech AT the University about the cost of college and student loans sums it up nicely, "...Think about that. We're going to help some students by messing with other students. That's not a good answer." I know he was talking about freezing student loans and the cost of college but it is also appropriate here! As the mom of a UofI student who is here on scholarships and loans, because my husband makes "to much money" for aid, I do not think that she, or any student, should be forced to pay 24% to help" other students! They can work 2 jobs while going to school and the parents can take out loans too!
David Leonard May 05, 2012 at 01:26 PM
Mitt Romney says students can borrow the money from their parents. In his world parents have the money to loan and probably even forgive the loans.
Maria Houser Conzemius May 20, 2012 at 01:21 AM
David Leonard, isn't Mitt Romney clueless? Every time he opens his mouth to talk as if he understands the average citizen, he puts his foot in it. He has no clue.
Maria Houser Conzemius May 20, 2012 at 02:12 PM
Ms. H, thanks for your compliment! We're hoping Sarah's job as a student environmental systems analyst will lead to a good job once she graduates in environmental sciences. I was so proud of her when she got her hardhat, steel-toed boots, Carrhart jeans, and gas mask. I've always told her not to go into a female-dominated profession, which is what I did, twice.

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