Many aspects of higher education financing are quite complicated. As readers have seen over and over this year, many states are having trouble funding their public colleges.
Iowa, however, has a different and more specific problem; it has to devote more and more money to financial aid programs it’s set aside for students already planning to attend college. According to an article by Emily Schettler in the Iowa City Press-Citizen:
In the face of unemployment and poor job prospects, enrollment at Iowa’s colleges and universities soared in recent years, jumping 22 percent in fiscal year 2010, which ran from July 1, 2009, to June 30, 2010, and many more of those students are eligible for financial aid, said Julie Leeper, legislative liaison for the Iowa College Student Aid Commission, which distributes Iowa’s state-appropriated financial aid.
“There has been an increase over the last several years as the economy has been in the depressed state,” Leeper said. “There are more applicants for higher education and more applicants eligible for aid.”
Apparently applications for financial aid in Iowa have increased by almost 50 percent in the last five years.
This comes at the same time that the state is providing less money for public universities to operate since 2007 state funds devoted to Iowa’s public colleges have declined by $57 million, or more than 87 percent.