‘The cost of doing business’

College leaders say inflation, lack of Legislature commitment lead to tuition increases at Iowa Central

-Messenger photo by Kelby Wingert
Tuition at Iowa Central Community College will increase slightly for the 2022-2023 school year.

Two major factors are leading to a nearly 5 percent increase in tuition fees at Iowa Central Community College.

The first factor, Iowa Central President Jesse Ulrich told the college’s board of directors Tuesday, is inflation.

“Just because we’re a college doesn’t mean that we’re exempt from the almost 9 percent increase in inflation for the cost of doing business,” he said.

The second factor is that the state Legislature has not passed its budget for the next fiscal year and the college doesn’t know how much state funding it will receive. The state’s community colleges are asking for $14 million, Ulrich said, but right now the bill in the House has less than half that.

“If we can’t get it from the Legislature, obviously then it has to come in the form of tuition increases,” Ulrich said.

The 4.62 percent increase raises the in-state tuition rate from $184 per credit hour to $192.50 per credit hour.

Out-of-state students will see their tuition rise from $271.50 per credit hour to $284.25 per credit hour.

Ulrich did propose one change to the tuition fees — currently, students from states that border Iowa and who maintain a 3.0 GPA receive a discounted tuition rate from the standard out-of-state rate. Ulrich proposed to expand that to all out-of-state students who maintain a 3.0 GPA. Those students will pay $197.50 per credit hour next school year, compared to $189 per credit hour this year.

“Iowa is battling for people,” Ulrich said. “We need more people to come to our state and the data that we have shows that 35 percent (of our students) are coming from our (community college) region.”

He said that 77 percent of Iowa Central graduates stay in the college’s service region once they graduate and enter the workforce.

“So we are not only a workforce pipeline, but we’re also a population pipeline,” Ulrich said. “What we want to do is get really aggressive about wanting them to come to Fort Dodge, have a great experience and figure out that this region can be a great place to raise a family, live and earn a good living.”

The board unanimously approved the new tuition rates.

The room and board rates were also increased by an additional $100 per semester, for a total of $7,330 per semester.

Ulrich also said that the Federal Pell Grant is increasing by $400 for students, which will help offset the cost of the tuition and housing increases.

The board approved a proposal from OPN Architects, of Des Moines, to develop a concept design for a new athletic facility on Iowa Central’s campus. The project is for a synthetic turf for soccer and football competition, as well as a concept design for a 300-meter indoor track facility at the field adjacent to the south campus entrance.

“We’ve had a longstanding need to create a safer space for our student athletes to practice right here on campus,” Ulrich said.

The college plans to start construction on the synthetic turf field this fall, but the plans for an indoor track facility are not going to be acted on immediately. Ulrich said that the project is part of long-range planning.

“I believe we could possibly impact about 800 student athletes on this project, and then free up a ton of intramural space for general students that we just don’t have right now,” he said.

OPN Architects will be paid $86,700 for its work on the design and follow-through of the project.

The concept design of the project is expected to be complete in June, with construction starting this fall.

At the start of the meeting, the board welcomed a new member. Andrea Oswald, of Twin Lakes, was appointed to the board to replace Deb Loerch, who resigned last month. Oswald is a nurse practitioner at Iowa Heart Center.

“I’ve been in the community for a long time — I was born and raised in Fort Dodge,” she said.

Oswald is also an alumna of the nursing program at Iowa Central.

“You came highly recommended by your predecessor,” Ulrich said.

The board also approved a renewal of Ulrich’s contract as president of the college. The three-year contract begins on July 1 and includes a salary of $255,000. He will also receive a monthly car allowance of $1,000.


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