Wartburg College President Darrel Colson believes a recent movement put forth by the University of Northern Iowa may have hurt the school’s partnerships with other higher education institutions.
The movement was a request by UNI and the Iowa Board of Regents to allow students at UNI to qualify for the Iowa Tuition Grant. The $5o-million grant is given annually on a need basis to students from Iowa who will be attending a four year private college. President Colson said this is a violation of an unwritten partnership among the three major branches of higher education.
“This kind of opens Pandora’s Box, are there no barriers anymore?” Colson said.
Colson said the process for years has been private schools would not seek any extra money from the state as that would take money from the state funded public schools, and the public schools would not ask for access to the Iowa Tuition Grant.
One of the biggest issues with the request for Colson is that if it is approved it would dilute the grant itself. Meaning there would be less money going to all students and making it so students with monetary needs would have an even harder time paying for college.
Colson said the decision to create the grant was done in order to make it easier for ‘baby boomers’ to pay for higher education. The decision was done rather than creating more public universities as that would have been more costly to tax payers.
Another part of the unspoken agreement is that each leg of the “higher education tripod” has to support one another. Colson said he supports both the community college and public college legs and UNI’s request does not support the private college leg.
Supporters of the proposal have said UNI receives less funding than both the University of Iowa and Iowa State University and that is why their students should qualify for the grant. Those against the proposal have pointed to the $95-million UNI receives from the State of Iowa already and call the request greedy.
Colson is against the bill amendment and thinks making the request could hurt UNI moving forward.
“I’m opposed and surprised, it’s unprecedented for us,” Colson said. “I believe relationships have been strained and there is a challenge there for us to overcome.”
Colson said he believes the amendment will not pass, but the final decision remains with the Iowa Legislature.