Iowa Board of Regents, State of Iowa
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Board of Regents
State of Iowa
11260 Aurora Avenue
Urbandale, IA 50322

Phone  (515) 281-3934
Fax      (515) 281-6420

Frequently Asked Questions about the

Board of Regents, State of


What is the Board of Regents?

What are the Board’s responsibilities?

What are the Board's priorities?

What is the Board's Mission?

How is the Board accountable to the citizens of Iowa?

Tell me about the Regent institutions.

What impact does the Regent enterprise have on Iowa?

How is the Regent enterprise funded?

What is the Board's tuition policy, and how is tuition set at the Regent universities?

Is a university education really worth the cost to students and the investment of state tax dollars?

How are facilities funded, planned, and approved?

What is the Board of Regents?

Created by the Iowa General Assembly in 1909, the Board of Regents, State of Iowa, is a group of nine citizens who govern five public educational institutions in the state through policymaking, coordination, and oversight, as provided by law.  The Board enhances the quality of  life for Iowans by maintaining the educational quality, accessibility, and public service activities of Iowa's three public universities – the University of Iowa,  Iowa State University, and the University of  Northern Iowa; and two special preschool/K-12th grade schools – the Iowa School for the Deaf and the Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School.  

Who serves on the Board of Regents?

The Board’s nine members are citizen volunteers appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Iowa Senate to serve staggered six-year terms. They elect one member to serve as president and another to serve as president pro-tem for two-year terms. According to Iowa Code Chapter 262, one member must be a full-time graduate or undergraduate student at one of the universities at the time of her or his appointment, and not more than five members can be of the same political party. Current members are profiled on the Board's web site at

The Board is required by statute to meet at least four times a year.  The meetings are open to the public except when Iowa's open meetings law allows closed sessions for specific reasons, such as the discussion of personnel matters or pending litigation.

The Board's staff are responsible for the implementation of the Board's governance strategies.  Board staff provide professional and administrative support through review, analysis, and policy recommendations on all matters coming before the Board.

The Board's staff is one of the smallest public higher education board staffs in the nation. Total costs for Board Office operations represent less than 0.01 percent of the total budget for the entire Regent enterprise.  

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What are the Board’s responsibilities?

The Board of Regents is statutorily authorized by Iowa Code Chapter 262, which states that the Board is responsible to "have and exercise all the powers necessary and convenient for the effective administration of its office and of the institutions under its control..." 

The broad responsibilities of the Board of Regents, State of Iowa , include:

  • Creating strategic plans for the Board and approving mission statements and strategic plans for the institutions, as well as monitoring progress toward strategic goals.
  • Creating and monitoring implementation of broad policies.
  • Reviewing and approving academic programs.
  • Approving budgets, tuition and fees, bonding, investment policies, and other business and finance matters.
  • Managing and controlling property and capital projects.
  • Hiring and evaluating performance of the three university presidents and two special school superintendents.
  • Maintaining oversight on matters related to personnel and employment relations; administering the Regent Merit System and coordinating Regent collective bargaining activities.
  • Serving as trustees of the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.
  • Monitoring and coordinating legislative matters and interactions with other state agencies.
  • Conducting studies and investigations, either alone or in association with the institutions and/or other agencies, and reporting findings and recommendations.  

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What are the Board’s priorities?

The mission and vision of the Board of Regents reflect a deep commitment to creating the best public education enterprise in the United States to serve the needs of Iowa, its citizens, and the world. According to its 2010-2016 Strategic Plan, the Board of Regents, working through Iowa’s public universities and special schools:

  1. Provides high-quality accessible education to students
  2. Engages in high-quality research, scholarship, and creative activities to enhance the quality of life for Iowans and society in general
  3. Provides needed public services
  4. Creates and supports economic development in partnership with public and private sectors
The 2010-2016 Strategic Plan can be viewed on the Board’s web site at

What is the Board's Mission?


The Board of Regents, working through Iowa’s public universities and special schools:

  •  Provides high-quality accessible education to students.
  •  Engages in high-quality research, scholarship, and creative activities to enhance the
     quality of life for Iowans and society in general.
  •  Provides needed public services.
  •  Creates and supports economic development in partnership with public and private

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How is the Board accountable to the citizens of Iowa?

In accordance with its strategic plan, the Board of Regents, as a governing body, has established financial and operational policies for its institutions to help ensure quality, competent performance, and progress toward goals.

Frequent public meetings and numerous governance reports to the Board, prepared by Board staff and the institutions, enable the Board to monitor and enhance its institutions. All meetings, minutes, and materials of the Board of Regents are open to the public, except for those specifically exempted by Iowa Code Chapters 21 and 22 on open meetings and open records. 

Public information covers a broad range of topics, including the Regent institutions’ and the Board Office's budgets; enrollment; graduation and retention rates; faculty activities; academic program accreditation; capital projects; distance education programs; economic development and technology transfer; and much more.

Much of this information is available on the Board's web site,, which also features the Board's strategic plan, meeting schedule, minutes, and Regent and Board Office contact information.  Information may also be requested from the Board Office.  

What is the value of having one board oversee these institutions?

This single Board of Regents ensures its institutions have a statewide focus, value, and impact. It establishes policies and exercises broad oversight of the institutions to maximize high-quality education, service to Iowans, effective and efficient use of resources, and public accountability.  The Board also fosters cooperation rather than competition among its institutions in providing education and service and seeking state funding. The state of Iowa has had a combined governing board for higher education since 1909, and this approach has served citizens well since that time.  

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Tell me about the Regent institutions.

The University of Iowa, is home of the world-renowned Iowa Writer's Workshop, and the National Advanced Driving Simulator, the University of Iowa is a comprehensive public university committed to high quality teaching, research, and service. The University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, ranked among America's best hospitals, provide exceptional health care, medical education, and cutting-edge research.  Founded in 1847 as the state's first public institution of higher learning, the university enrolls more than 32,000 students and offers a number of top-ranking programs. 

Iowa State University is an international university with a friendly welcoming personality.  Students from 50 states and more than 100 countries come to Ames, Iowa, to choose from 100 majors, study with world-class scholars and hone their leadership skills in 800-plus student organizations.  Iowa State offers a great environment where students can enjoy reaching their potential and discovering their passions. This land-grant university, enrolls 36,001 undergraduate and graduate students. ISU Extension benefits Iowans in all 99 counties with research-based learning opportunities.

The University of Northern Iowa, located in Cedar Falls, ranked second in the "Best Regional Universities (Midwest)" category for public universities, according to the U.S. News & World Report's 2014 "America's Best Colleges" guidebook. UNI also was 13th on a combined list of all public and private Midwest regional universities.  UNI enrolls 11,981 undergraduate and graduate students. Exceptional academic programs include education, accounting, music, business and chemistry.

The Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School  Iowa Educational Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired Students (IESBVI) serves 576 statewide students.

The Iowa School for the Deaf is a residential school for students who are deaf or hard of hearing. The school employs the only statewide consultant to serve students on campus and across Iowa. Iowa School for the Deaf enrolls 104 students in on-campus programs.  

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What impact does the Regent enterprise have on Iowa?

The Board of Regents and its institutions benefit Iowans and the world in numerous ways.

The Iowa School for the Deaf and the Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School provide services in communities statewide to help ensure that all sensory impaired children have opportunities to learn, succeed, and become as independent as possible.

The three public universities fulfill a three-part mission of education, research, and service.  Students come to the universities from all 99 Iowa counties and around the globe for a wide range of degree programs, continuing education, and other enrichment activities, while others enjoy distance education opportunities delivered via the Internet, the Iowa Communications Network, and other methods.

Approximately 62 percent of the students enrolled at the universities are Iowans. More than 244,000 Regent university alumni live in Iowa's 99 counties and help drive the state's economy as a highly qualified workforce of taxpayers and community leaders. Iowans in all 99 counties take courses at the Regent universities through distance education opportunities; enrollment in credit and noncredit courses exceeds 600,000 annually.

The three universities serve and assist all types of businesses and agricultural ventures in the state. Their research parks facilitate transfer of research to business and industry and stimulate Iowa's economy. Small business and entrepreneurial centers provide seed grants, educational programs and consulting services statewide. Other centers enhance agriculture, support rural communities, help incubate emerging businesses, and accelerate technology development.

The three Regent universities provide a great return on public investment. For every dollar in state funding for FY 2013, the Regent universities returned $2.30 in external gifts, grants, contracts and non-resident tuition.  The universities attracted to Iowa more than $792 million in sponsored funding from federal, foundation and private sources, and more than $441 million in tuition paid by out-of-state students.

The universities also touch the lives of Iowans in every county with service and support. For example, Iowa State University Extension, via community-based offices statewide, provides training and skill development each year for more than 40,000 community leaders, local government officials, business owners, entrepreneurs, and volunteers.  Iowans across the state make more than 790,000 visits annually to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.  The Institute for Decision Making at the University of Northern Iowa has assisted 680 communities and economic development organizations in Iowa.  

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How is the Regent enterprise funded?

The Regent enterprise is Iowa's most powerful and comprehensive resource for educational opportunities and economic growth. The five Regent institutions annually enroll more than 80,000 students on their campuses; employ more than 48,000 people, including full-time and part-time employees and students; engage in extensive research and technology transfer projects; provide Iowans with diverse cultural, recreational, athletic, and entertainment activities; and operate a nationally renowned teaching hospital.

The current FY 2016 Regent enterprise budget, as approved by the Board in August 2015, is slightly exceed $5.5 billion. Of that amount, $2.9 billion is in general operating funds (includes UIHC) and $2.6 billion in restricted funds.

The $2.9 billion in operating revenue includes $599.0 million in direct state appropriations and $903.8 million in tuition revenue.  The balance of the operating revenues is comprised of federal funds, interest income, reimbursed indirect costs associated with grant-funded research, and sales and services.

The $2.6 billion in restricted funds are specifically designated or restricted for a particular purpose or enterprise and include capital and tuition replacement appropriations, gifts, sponsored funding from federal and private sources, athletics, as well as other auxiliary or independent functions such as residence, parking, and utility systems.

(in thousands)


Operating Budget

     Restricted Budget


University of Iowa


$  1,712,992


Iowa State University




University of Northern Iowa




Iowa School for the Deaf




Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School








* includes $1,274.3 million for University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, Psychiatric Hospital, Center for Disabilities and Development, and Specialized Child Health Services.

Where does the money come from?

The state of Iowa funds nearly all operational costs at the two special schools. At the three universities, approximately 34% of the funding for higher education is paid by state dollars and approximately 61% comes from tuition revenues.  Other general operating revenues comprise the remainder. 

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What is the Board's tuition policy?

Consistent with Iowa law (Iowa Code §262.9.23) and the Board’s strategic plan, the Board’s tuition policy is to establish tuition rates that provide some predictability for assessing and anticipating changes.

The Board of Regents allows each university president sufficient flexibility to propose tuition and fee rates consistent with institutional strategic goals.  The Board evaluates tuition proposals using an inflationary percentage range of the projected Higher Education Price Index as a benchmark.

The Board also requires the universities to set aside a minimum of 15 percent of gross tuition revenues for student financial aid.   

How are students and citizens informed of tuition rates at the Regent universities?

The Iowa Code requires the Board of Regents, when increasing tuition or fees, to take action in an open meeting no sooner than 30 days after notifying the presiding officers of each student government organization at each affected institution.  The Board discusses and acts upon tuition and fees in scheduled, open meetings and invites students to provide input on the tuition recommendations.  

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Is a university education really worth the cost to students and the investment of state tax dollars?


Absolutely! It's one of the best investments individuals and state officials can make. U.S. Census Bureau statistics indicate the average bachelor's degree graduate will earn nearly $1 million more in their lifetime than the average high school graduate. For those with advanced degrees, that lifetime income is even higher.

That investment in higher education pays off for the state and society. The future strength of Iowa's and the nation's economies increasingly depends on those higher skilled, higher earning workers enhancing state productivity, spending those higher incomes, and contributing as active, educated citizens.  


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How are facilities on the campuses funded?

Facilities are essential to fulfilling the Regent enterprise's three-part mission of education, discovery, and service.  They also help the Regent institutions maintain quality and compete for faculty, staff, and students.

Each campus has several different types of facilities, and they are funded in different ways. Academic buildings – where much of the teaching and research is conducted – and some administrative and student services structures are generally funded, at least in part, by a mix of institutional income from state support, student tuition, and, in some cases, private gifts.

Other buildings on the campuses, such as dormitories and parking structures, are typically built with no public funds at all. These structures are mainly funded by bond issues that are repaid entirely through user fees. The University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics also generate funds to repay the capital improvements made on its campus, without utilizing state resources for that purpose.  

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How are facilities on the campuses planned?

Board policy requires the five Regent institutions to submit to the Board their capital plans for the fiscal year ahead. All projects included in the plans are subject to extensive Board review, including approval of project descriptions and budgets, architectural/engineering agreements, and schematic designs. The Board also must grant permission to proceed with project planning for all projects with budgets of an estimated $2 million or more. 

How can the Regent universities build new facilities when state funding is being cut?

Funds for capital projects provided by the state often cannot be used for other purposes, such as paying salaries or providing financial aid. For example, the Iowa General Assembly approves funds for facilities separately from funds for operations, and those facilities funds must be used for the specific purpose identified in the legislation. Many private gifts are designated by donors for buildings and also cannot be used for other purposes.