Best Value Colleges in Iowa

Iowa is home to several great colleges, but the Iowa College ROI Report can help you find a school that has proven to be worth the high cost of admission.  Read More

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1Iowa State University(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$447,700
Total 4 Year Cost$75,300
Grad Rate68%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$26,360
2Iowa State University(Out-of-State)
20 Year Net ROI$399,600
Total 4 Year Cost$123,400
Grad Rate68%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$26,360
3Drake University(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$365,200
Total 4 Year Cost$167,800
Grad Rate73%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$29,560
4University of Iowa (UI)(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$349,000
Total 4 Year Cost$84,000
Grad Rate70%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$28,040
5University of Iowa (UI)(Out-of-State)
20 Year Net ROI$278,300
Total 4 Year Cost$154,700
Grad Rate70%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$28,040
6St. Ambrose University(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$231,000
Total 4 Year Cost$152,000
Grad Rate61%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$32,560
7University of Northern Iowa(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$206,200
Total 4 Year Cost$76,800
Grad Rate66%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$22,320
8Coe College(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$194,900
Total 4 Year Cost$178,100
Grad Rate67%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$32,160
9University of Northern Iowa(Out-of-State)
20 Year Net ROI$170,500
Total 4 Year Cost$112,500
Grad Rate66%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$22,320
10Dordt College(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$127,600
Total 4 Year Cost$145,400
Grad Rate62%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$29,280
11Simpson College - Indianola, IA(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$72,000
Total 4 Year Cost$161,000
Grad Rate65%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$35,200
12Mount Mercy University(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$65,700
Total 4 Year Cost$148,300
Grad Rate73%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$33,240
13Luther College(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$50,200
Total 4 Year Cost$182,800
Grad Rate76%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$32,480
14Cornell College - Mount Vernon, IA(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$45,900
Total 4 Year Cost$181,900
Grad Rate68%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$25,800
15Wartburg College(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$16,300
Total 4 Year Cost$169,700
Grad Rate63%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$29,840

*NOTE: Unranked schools on this list don’t have on-campus living options, so on-campus costs are not available.

It's important to consider whether or not a college or university will help a student find a well-paying job once he or she graduates. One great way to find out if the return on investment or ROI makes attending a particular school worthwhile is to read the Iowa College ROI Report.

In order to create a list of the best value colleges in Iowa, we determined the net 20-year ROI for each one. We derived this figure from the amount of money that graduates earned over a 20-year period. Then, we compared this average to the amount that high school graduates earned over 20 years. From there, we arrived at the net 20-year ROI for students who lived on campus.

The educational institution that earned our top spot is Iowa State University. Students who live on campus can expect to earn $447,700 in the 20-year period after their graduations. If they pay the in-state tuition, the total cost for their educations will be $75,300. The out-of-state tuition cost is equal to $123,400, so the net 20-year ROI is lower at $399,600, but this did not stop Iowa State University from taking the second spot in our Iowa College ROI Report for out-of-state tuition.

Those who decide to attend Iowa State University receive a high value of college education in Iowa. In addition, the school provides generous financial aid _ 76 percent of students receive some sort of financial aid, and more than one fifth of the students at ISU are eligible for government-funded Pell Grants. According to PayScale.com, in-state and out-of-state students receive an average $26,360 in loans over four years.

The third entry on our list of the best value colleges Iowa is a private school. Drake University costs students $167,800 to attend, and the net 20-year ROI is equal to $365,200. This figure is not quite as high as Iowa State University's, but it is still a very good number.

Drake University is a medium-sized school that gives students the chance to participate in the learning process by cooperating on projects and sharing ideas in class. It also provides students with the chance to engage in several sports, including basketball, tennis and softball.

The school that offers the fourth highest college return of investment Iowa is the University of Iowa. This public institution's in-state tuition is a little higher than Iowa State University's price at $84,000, but students can expect an impressive net 20-year ROI of $349,000. This school also occupies the fifth spot for out-of-state tuition at $154,700. For this amount, students can expect to earn $278,300 more than they would have made if they did not attain their bachelor's degrees from this university.

Students at the University of Iowa receive $7,900 in grant money per year, and those who apply for financial aid obtain $28,040 over four years. A total of 28 percent of this school's population are eligible for the Pell Grant.

The best course of action to take before applying to an Iowa college or university is to check the school's rankings first. You may find that the school you wish to attend does not offer a promising net 20-year ROI. For example, the private Buena Vista University has a net 20-year ROI in negative territory. Students who live on campus can look forward to a -$4,700 net 20-year ROI.