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$418,000
Total 4 Year Cost$76,100
Grad Rate69%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$27,500
2University of Iowa (UI)(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$371,000
Total 4 Year Cost$84,400
Grad Rate70%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$28,400
3Iowa State University(Out-of-State)
20 Year Net ROI$368,000
Total 4 Year Cost$127,000
Grad Rate69%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$27,500
4University of Iowa (UI)(Out-of-State)
20 Year Net ROI$295,000
Total 4 Year Cost$161,000
Grad Rate70%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$28,400
5Drake University(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$287,000
Total 4 Year Cost$181,000
Grad Rate78%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$31,200
6University of Northern Iowa(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$218,000
Total 4 Year Cost$79,500
Grad Rate64%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$22,700
7Upper Iowa University(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$191,000
Total 4 Year Cost$151,000
Grad Rate38%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$23,700
8Graceland University(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$190,000
Total 4 Year Cost$145,000
Grad Rate54%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$43,600
9University of Northern Iowa(Out-of-State)
20 Year Net ROI$179,000
Total 4 Year Cost$118,000
Grad Rate64%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$22,700
10Loras College(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$170,000
Total 4 Year Cost$157,000
Grad Rate64%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$29,900
11Grand View University (GVU)(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$162,000
Total 4 Year Cost$137,000
Grad Rate47%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$31,300
12Dordt College(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$151,000
Total 4 Year Cost$157,000
Grad Rate66%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$29,700
13Grinnell College(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$142,000
Total 4 Year Cost$230,000
Grad Rate89%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$21,600
14Mount Mercy University(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$141,000
Total 4 Year Cost$159,000
Grad Rate72%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$41,300
15Simpson College - Indianola, IA(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$136,000
Total 4 Year Cost$175,000
Grad Rate73%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$34,300

*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 only state whose east and west borders are formed entirely by rivers, Iowa is covered in rolling hills and acres upon acres of farmland. The birthplace of Western movie star John Wayne, Iowa is home to the University of Iowa, which includes the well-known Iowa Writers' Workshop. Iowa was also the birthplace of U.S. President Herbert Hoover, author Bill Bryson, Lord of The Rings actor Elijah Wood, and Super Bowl-winning football player Kurt Warner.

Iowa State University typically offers both in-state and out-of-state students a high return on investment for their tuition investment. Located in Ames, Iowa State is roughly 30 miles from Iowa's capitol city of Des Moines. Ames is also the home of the USDA's Agricultural Research Service's National Animal Disease Center, and Ames laboratory at ISU played a critical role in the development of the atomic bomb during World War II as part of the Manhattan Project.

Private 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.