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Iowa College Aid

More Iowans Have Degrees, but Fewer Are Going to College


Elizabeth Keest Sedrel
(o) 515-725-3417  (c) 515-710-1257

Iowa College Aid’s “Condition of Higher Education” Also Reports Mixed News for College Readiness and Affordability

The percentage of Iowans with a college degree is growing, even as college enrollment rates are falling, according to a report released today by Iowa College Aid.

As of 2017, 43 percent of Iowans had an associate’s, bachelor’s, or professional degree—2 percentage points higher than 2013, and also 2 percentage points higher than the national average. However, overall college enrollment in Iowa fell more than 7 percent from 2010 to 2018, partly due to an increase in available jobs during the recovery from the Great Recession. The Future Ready Iowa Last-Dollar Scholarship and Grant were not in effect until fall 2019, so enrollment figures do not reflect those programs.

The “Condition of Higher Education in Iowa 2020” finds mixed results in other areas as well:

  • The cost of attendance at Iowa colleges and universities rose from 2010 to 2017, but the proportion of Iowa’s median income needed to cover the average net price (after financial aid) declined, suggesting that college is becoming more affordable.
  • Iowa continues to hold the No. 1 spot in the United States for high school graduation rates. At the same time, the state is losing ground in graduation rates for Hispanic students, economically disadvantaged students, and students with disabilities.
  • Iowa tied for the highest average composite ACT score in the nation in 2019. However, Iowa’s average ACT score fell by a half-point from 2015 to 2019, with Black, Hispanic, and Native American students scoring considerably lower than Asian and white students.

“Significant racial and socioeconomic gaps in the college-going pipeline remain—gaps we must address to meet the state’s education goals,” Iowa College Aid Executive Director Mark Wiederspan wrote in his introduction to the report.

Iowa College Aid releases a “Condition of Higher Education” report every two years. Download this year’s report or request a printed copy at