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By AP  /  
2014 December 22 - 05:48 pm

Iowa Colleges Fret About Regent Enrollment Plan

In-State Recruitment at Universities Could Depress Community College Enrollment

DUBUQUE, Iowa (AP) — College officials in Dubuque say they’re concerned about a proposal designed to increase the number of in-state students at Iowa’s three regent universities.

The “performance-based funding” proposal creates a strong incentive for the University of Iowa, Iowa State University and the University of Northern Iowa to enroll students who already live in the state.

The formula will lead those universities to recruit in-state students more aggressively at the

expense of Iowa’s private and community colleges, said Liang Chee Wee, president of Northeast Iowa Community College.

“Providing education to a student is a noble goal,” he said. But, “once (the regent universities) do that, the unintended consequence is that many of the community colleges and private colleges potentially will see ... a drop in enrollment.”

Under the new funding model, 60 percent of the money the schools receive from the Legislature annually would be allocated to in-state enrollment. The other 40 percent would be based on performance measures, such as the number of graduates and the diversity of student bodies.

Regents have said the plan would align Iowa tax dollars with Iowa students while rewarding the universities for meeting key performance measures. Under the old funding system, the universities received money simply based upon the amount they received the prior year.

Retired Maytag Chairman and CEO Leonard Hadley was a member of the five-person task force that presented the revamped formula to the regents, according to the Dubuque Telegraph Herald (http://bit.ly/15V6UOq ). Hadley said he was the lone voice of opposition throughout the process.

“I objected to the new formula on almost every count (and) voted against it in the task force,” Hadley said.

Dubuque city officials are concerned as well. The city council adopted a legislative priority list which includes a request to reject performance-based funding.

Council Member Ric Jones said the formula could deter students from training in technical fields which are in high demand.

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