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Shrinking State Funding a 'Tax' on UNI Students

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The Campanile at University of Northern Iowa

At a time of rising tuitions and tight budgets at the state’s Regents universities, the president of the University of Northern Iowa is expressing some relief.

Mark Nook has been on the job in Cedar Falls about a year. Tuition at his school is climbing two-point-eight percent, a little more than $200. That's less than the three-point-eight percent increases at Iowa State and the University of Iowa. Nook says he understands why higher education is often on the chopping block during state budget considerations.

“It’s just a very difficult time for many state governments across the country and often higher education is looked at because we do have what people see as another revenue source," says Nook. "But what that means is putting a tax on our students who are coming here.”

UNI managed to avoid a mid-year budget cut that was imposed on the other two state schools. Nook says legislators realize Northern Iowa’s mission to educate Iowa students makes it unique.

“Our student population is a lot different, in that 90 percent of our students come from the state of Iowa and about 85 percent of those kids who come from Iowa and graduate from UNI stay in the state of Iowa," Nook says. "So we are very much educating Iowans for Iowa.”

Nook spoke with IPR's Ben Kieffer on River to River.   

Ben Kieffer is the host of IPR's River to River
Katherine Perkins is IPR's Program Director for News and Talk