College enrollment is dropping in Iowa, report says

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Elizabeth Keest Sedrel

(515) 725-3417


The number of Iowans who enroll in college and the number of Iowans who file for college financial aid are both falling, according to a report released today by Iowa College Aid.

“Condition of Higher Education in Iowa 2018” outlines a drop of almost a third in Iowa’s college enrollment from 2010 to 2017. The largest decline was at private for-profit institutions. Community colleges and not-for-profit institutions saw smaller drops in that period, while Regent universities experienced a gain.

The number of Iowans who file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid peaked in 2011-12 but had fallen 22 percent by 2016-17. Without filing the FAFSA, college students are ineligible for the federal Pell Grant, federal Work-Study, federal student loans and many forms of state and institutional aid.

“These two trends concern us a great deal,” said Karen Misjak, executive director of Iowa College Aid. “We worry that young Iowans don’t fully understand the value of higher education, even though the benefits are clear. College graduates are more likely to be employed and earn much more throughout their lives, and they’re more likely to be happy with their standard of living.” The report also outlines how much more college graduates pay in taxes and how much less they depend on public assistance.

Other topics include:

  • College readiness among Iowa students
  • College persistence and degree completion
  • The rising price of college

“Condition of Higher Education” is available as a digital download or in print at