Differential Tuition: FAQs for CALS Undergraduates

The ISU Registrar maintains a set of frequently asked questions on differential tuition at the following web site:  http://www.registrar.iastate.edu/fees/tuition-faqs/undergrad-faqs

The College of Agriculture and Life Science has added the following information that addresses topics students have raised:

Who pays differential tuition in CALS?

Since 2011, juniors and seniors enrolled in the majors of Agricultural Systems Technology (AST) and Industrial Technology (ITEC) in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences have paid differential tuition. Starting with the academic year 2017-18 (including summer session 2017), the following majors in CALS will also pay differential tuition:

  • Animal Ecology
  • Forestry
  • Animal Science
  • Dairy Science
  • General PreVet
  • Biology
  • Genetics
  • Microbiology

Majors in other colleges also pay differential tuition. All juniors and seniors in the College of Engineering have paid differential tuition since 2006. The College of Business adopted a similar practice in 2010. Architecture majors in the College of Design have paid differential tuition since 2012. 

How much differential tuition will students pay?

For the majors with differential tuition, the costs will be phased in over three years starting with the 2017-18 academic year. For juniors and seniors in Animal Ecology, Animal Science, Biology, Dairy Science, Forestry, General Pre-Vet, Genetics and Microbiology, here are the differential tuition amounts for the next three years during the phase-in period:


Academic Year

Amount of Differential

Tuition per year

Amount of Differential

Tuition per semester


$    534

$ 267


$ 1,067

$ 533


$ 1,600

$ 800


In future years, this amount will be adjusted by the same annual percentage increase as the university’s base tuition.  Once students are eligible to be assessed differential tuition, they will pay differential tuition each semester until they graduate.


How will CALS invest revenues from differential tuition?

Student advisory committees will be established in each department or interdepartmental program to provide input to the department chair on the use of these funds. In general, the college intends to invest to sustain or improve the learning experience for students in majors where differential tuition is charged. Examples of investments may include:

  • Hire, retain world-class faculty
  • Strengthen mentoring, advising
  • Sustain close interactions with faculty in lab-intensive learning experiences
  • Maintain or improve facilities, technology
  • Critical services for students

How does the cost of Iowa State University’s tuition and mandatory fees compare to peer land grant universities?

The chart below compares the 2016-17 tuition and mandatory fees paid by undergraduate resident students at the universities considered to be peers of Iowa State in high-quality, land-grant university programs. Iowa State is consistently one of the least expensive options among our peer institutions.

What is the college doing to ease the financial burden on its students?


CALS and its departments awarded more than $3 million in scholarships in 2016-17 to its students. CALS is raising additional private funds from alumni and friends to increase the number of scholarships for students.

How do I appeal a differential tuition charge in CALS?


If a student does not feel he/she has been appropriately charged differential tuition, the student has the right to appeal the tuition charge. For consideration, all tuition appeals must be submitted by 5 p.m. on the tenth day of classes. A committee will review each individual appeal submission, and render a recommendation. Notification of the decision will be sent to the student’s university email account within two weeks of the submission deadline. 


If you have further questions or wish to submit an appeal please contact:

David Acker, Associate Dean, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (dacker@iastate.edu).