Best Value Colleges in Iowa

Iowa is home to several great colleges, but the Iowa College ROI rankings 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$459,000
Total 4 Year Cost$75,400
Grad Rate69%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$27,500
2Iowa State University(Out-of-State)
20 Year Net ROI$409,000
Total 4 Year Cost$125,000
Grad Rate69%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$27,500
3Drake University(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$399,000
Total 4 Year Cost$175,000
Grad Rate78%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$31,200
4University of Iowa (UI)(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$369,000
Total 4 Year Cost$84,500
Grad Rate70%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$28,400
5University of Iowa (UI)(Out-of-State)
20 Year Net ROI$296,000
Total 4 Year Cost$158,000
Grad Rate70%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$28,400
6Graceland University(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$244,000
Total 4 Year Cost$140,000
Grad Rate54%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$43,600
7Dordt College(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$231,000
Total 4 Year Cost$152,000
Grad Rate66%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$29,700
8University of Northern Iowa(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$216,000
Total 4 Year Cost$78,300
Grad Rate64%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$22,700
9Grinnell College(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$213,000
Total 4 Year Cost$221,000
Grad Rate89%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$21,600
10Upper Iowa University(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$200,000
Total 4 Year Cost$144,000
Grad Rate38%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$23,700
11University of Northern Iowa(Out-of-State)
20 Year Net ROI$178,000
Total 4 Year Cost$116,000
Grad Rate64%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$22,700
12St. Ambrose University(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$168,000
Total 4 Year Cost$157,000
Grad Rate57%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$34,300
13Mount Mercy University(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$144,000
Total 4 Year Cost$153,000
Grad Rate72%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$41,300
14Wartburg College(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$104,000
Total 4 Year Cost$178,000
Grad Rate71%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$33,200
15Luther College(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$94,200
Total 4 Year Cost$190,000
Grad Rate82%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$33,000

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

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 the median earnings to the amount that high school graduates earned over 20 years. Essentially, we're looking at how much more graduates from specific colleges typically earn compared to high school graduates.

The educational institution that took our top spot is Iowa State University. Both in-state and out-of-state students can expect a high return on investment for their tuition investment at Iowa State. According to the Department of Education, students typically graduate with just over $27,000 in student loan debt.

The third entry on our list of the best value colleges in Iowa is a private school. Drake University costs students $175,000 to attend, and the net 20-year ROI is equal to $399,000. 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.