What exactly do tuition and fee payments buy for our students? University of Iowa administrators have been hearing that question since it was announced that the University will seek a nine percent increase in tuition and fees for the coming fiscal year. Both still will be substantially lower than peer institutions, but the University is no longer at the bottom of the list.
Several Sources of Student Support
The Universitys budgeting system cant always provide for a simple answer. Revenues come into the University not only from tuition but from state support, fees paid by users of University services, residence halls, medical care, fees paid by students, research grants, support of specific programs by business and industry, and other sources. Most state appropriations and tuition flow into one "lake"the General Fundand then are directed out again to areas of most need at a given time.
So if the University creates a new recreation facility, fees paid by students to support recreation would be part of the funding. But so might be other fees.
Some other universities have line-item budgets, but President Mary Sue Coleman has had personal experience with them and says she hopes that Iowas system never changes. With a line-item budget, she says, if you have a surplus of money in an office supplies account, you cant use it for desperately needed computers.
"I hope we always use the system we have," Coleman says. "Its easier to manage and allows us to deal effectively with the greatest needs as they arise."
Everything They Touch
Tuition and fees, plus the other revenues, cover a variety of items that students depend on in order to complete their education. From the tutor who helps them through organic chemistry before midterms to the auditorium in which they take Quest for Human Destiny; from the new recreation fields currently under construction near Mormon Trek Boulevard to the hardware, software, scanners, and printers in the Instructional Technology Centersalmost everything that a student touches in a day has been purchased or developed using these funds.
The University devotes a substantial portion of tuition revenues to helping students pay for their education. In 1999-2000, the University used this money for $213 million worth of grants, loans, and employment for students, up 4.8 percent from the preceding year.
The University depends on the state of Iowa to support faculty and staff salary increases as part of the 20 percent of the Universitys total funding that comes from the state. In years when that does not happen, such as last year, the amount the state does not fund must come from another source: delaying maintenance, renovation, or construction, delaying new equipment purchases, layoffs, or higher tuition.
Someone once described the telephone directory as having "great cast, no plot." A budget might not seem to have much of a cast either, but look underneath the rows of figures and youll find they are supporting students.
Perhaps Ann Madden Rice, associate director and chief financial officer of the University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics, put it best recently when she submitted her 2001-2002 budget:
"A budget is about how we structure our relationships," she said. "Its an agreement we make with each other about the resources each of us will use to achieve our common goals."
For a look at all revenue streams and the general expenditures that they fund, look at the President's Report.