The Iowa board of directors on Thursday unanimously approved plans to ask the Iowa legislature for a budget increase of more than $34 million.
Board members also unanimously passed a $1 million amendment to the total appropriation request of more than $630 million, which would provide additional funding for mental health services at public universities across the country. State. The amendment was approved after council members said they spoke with students who expressed the need to expand mental health services at universities.
“We have heard from our student leaders at all universities how mental health issues and concerns have increased over the past few years,” Regent Nancy Boettger said at the meeting in Cedar Falls on Thursday. “We also heard (this) from our presidents at our universities.”
The money will be distributed by the board to the three public universities. The budget already contained a request for $1 million to expand mental health programs at Iowa State University.
The approved budget request contains other expansion proposals, including $7 million for the University of Iowa to expand its nursing faculty program and $4 million for the nursing education program. Northern Iowa University.
Teachers and nurses are two fields facing significant labor shortages, nationally and in Iowa, in part due to the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on schools and hospitals.
The labor shortage has not only increased the FY2024 budget price for expanded programs; board staff said in their request that more funding was needed across the board to retain academic staff.
“There is great concern about employee costs in a market heavily influenced by inflation, competition for quality talent and labor shortages,” board staff wrote in their application.
Inflation is the main driver of the final budget request, which is the highest total increase requested by the board in the past nine years. The cost of labor, goods and services, and technology have all risen dramatically, and Regents staff said their budget request reflects the additional spending on services and goods that public universities of Iowa already provide.
For the past several years, the Republican-controlled state legislature has disagreed with the board’s assessment of state funding. State lawmakers cut the Regents’ budget by more than $7 million in 2020 and did not approve additional funding the following year. In this year’s session, lawmakers granted only $5.5 million in general aid instead of the $15 million requested by the council.
Partly to make up for that difference, the Board of Regents raised annual tuition fees by more than $300 at the three universities in July, following a 3.5% hike at Unemployment Insurance and ISU l ‘last year. While board members said the 4.25% increase was below the rate of inflation, student leaders argued the new costs could keep some Iowans from attending college.
The newly approved appropriations request also includes $11 million in stipends to increase funding for low-income or first-generation students at the three state universities. According to September enrollment data, one in five students in UI’s incoming class are first-generation students.