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.

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Rank
School Name
Annual ROI
20 Year ROI annualized to represent the % of expected ROI received each year after graduation.
Annual ROI
20 Year ROI annualized to represent the % of expected ROI received each year after graduation.
Annual ROI
20 Year ROI annualized to represent the % of expected ROI received each year after graduation.
Annual ROI
20 Year ROI annualized to represent the % of expected ROI received each year after graduation.
20 Year Net ROI
 
Difference between 20 Year Median Pay for a bachelor’s grad and 24 Year Median Pay for a high school grad minus Total 4 Year Cost.
20 Year Net ROI
Difference between 20 Year Median Pay for a bachelor’s grad and 24 Year Median Pay for a high school grad minus Total 4 Year Cost.
20 Year Net ROI
Difference between 20 Year Median Pay for a bachelor’s grad and 24 Year Median Pay for a high school grad minus Total 4 Year Cost.
20 Year Net ROI
Difference between 20 Year Median Pay for a bachelor’s grad and 24 Year Median Pay for a high school grad minus Total 4 Year Cost.
Total 4 Year Cost
Full cost, including tuition & fees, room & board, and books & supplies. Actual net cost may vary based on a student’s academic success and family income. Source: IPEDS
Total 4 Year Cost
Full cost, including tuition & fees, room & board, and books & supplies. Actual net cost may vary based on a student’s academic success and family income. Source: IPEDS
Graduation Rate
% of full-time, first-time degree seeking undergrad students who began their studies at the given school and graduate within 6 years. Source: IPEDS
Typical Years to Graduate
# of years it takes for at least 65 percent of graduates from a given school to receive their diplomas. Source: IPEDS
Average Loan Amount
Received by full-time, first-time degree seeking undergrad students, multiplied to represent amount over four years. Includes all Title IV loans and all institutionally- and privately-sponsored student loans. Source: IPEDS
% Grant Money Received
% of full-time, first-time undergrads who received local, state, federal, or institutional grant aid in the 2012-2013 academic year. Source: IPEDS
19.9%9.9%12.6%12.6%$435,000$435,000$465,000$465,000$77,200$77,20074%5$27,60019%
1Iowa State University(In-State)
Annual ROI9.9%
Annual ROI9.9%
Annual ROI12.6%
Annual ROI12.6%
20 Year Net ROI$435,000
20 Year Net ROI$435,000
20 Year Net ROI$465,000
20 Year Net ROI$465,000
Total 4 Year Cost$77,200
Total 4 Year Cost$77,200
Grad Rate74%
Time to Graduate5
Loan Amt$27,600
Grant Money Received19%
29.1%9.1%12.4%12.4%$394,000$394,000$432,000$432,000$84,400$83,80072%4$29,00023%
2University of Iowa(In-State)
Annual ROI9.1%
Annual ROI9.1%
Annual ROI12.4%
Annual ROI12.4%
20 Year Net ROI$394,000
20 Year Net ROI$394,000
20 Year Net ROI$432,000
20 Year Net ROI$432,000
Total 4 Year Cost$84,400
Total 4 Year Cost$83,800
Grad Rate72%
Time to Graduate4
Loan Amt$29,000
Grant Money Received23%
37.1%7.1%8.5%8.5%$384,000$384,000$413,000$413,000$129,000$129,00074%5$27,60019%
3Iowa State University(Out-of-State)
Annual ROI7.1%
Annual ROI7.1%
Annual ROI8.5%
Annual ROI8.5%
20 Year Net ROI$384,000
20 Year Net ROI$384,000
20 Year Net ROI$413,000
20 Year Net ROI$413,000
Total 4 Year Cost$129,000
Total 4 Year Cost$129,000
Grad Rate74%
Time to Graduate5
Loan Amt$27,600
Grant Money Received19%
45.5%5.6%7.0%7.0%$316,000$316,000$354,000$354,000$163,000$162,00072%4$29,00023%
4University of Iowa(Out-of-State)
Annual ROI5.5%
Annual ROI5.6%
Annual ROI7.0%
Annual ROI7.0%
20 Year Net ROI$316,000
20 Year Net ROI$316,000
20 Year Net ROI$354,000
20 Year Net ROI$354,000
Total 4 Year Cost$163,000
Total 4 Year Cost$162,000
Grad Rate72%
Time to Graduate4
Loan Amt$29,000
Grant Money Received23%
54.8%4.8%7.6%7.6%$289,000$289,000$368,000$368,000$189,000$189,00078%4$31,50017%
5Drake University(Private)
Annual ROI4.8%
Annual ROI4.8%
Annual ROI7.6%
Annual ROI7.6%
20 Year Net ROI$289,000
20 Year Net ROI$289,000
20 Year Net ROI$368,000
20 Year Net ROI$368,000
Total 4 Year Cost$189,000
Total 4 Year Cost$189,000
Grad Rate78%
Time to Graduate4
Loan Amt$31,500
Grant Money Received17%
66.8%6.8%8.3%8.3%$219,000$219,000$239,000$239,000$80,900$80,90065%5$23,30026%
6University of Northern Iowa(In-State)
Annual ROI6.8%
Annual ROI6.8%
Annual ROI8.3%
Annual ROI8.3%
20 Year Net ROI$219,000
20 Year Net ROI$219,000
20 Year Net ROI$239,000
20 Year Net ROI$239,000
Total 4 Year Cost$80,900
Total 4 Year Cost$80,900
Grad Rate65%
Time to Graduate5
Loan Amt$23,300
Grant Money Received26%
74.0%3.8%6.9%6.4%$197,000$188,000$264,000$256,000$163,000$171,00069%4$31,20024%
7Dordt College(Private)
Annual ROI4.0%
Annual ROI3.8%
Annual ROI6.9%
Annual ROI6.4%
20 Year Net ROI$197,000
20 Year Net ROI$188,000
20 Year Net ROI$264,000
20 Year Net ROI$256,000
Total 4 Year Cost$163,000
Total 4 Year Cost$171,000
Grad Rate69%
Time to Graduate4
Loan Amt$31,200
Grant Money Received24%
83.9%3.9%6.9%6.9%$182,000$182,000$250,000$250,000$157,000$157,00044%5$33,90053%
8Upper Iowa University(Private)
Annual ROI3.9%
Annual ROI3.9%
Annual ROI6.9%
Annual ROI6.9%
20 Year Net ROI$182,000
20 Year Net ROI$182,000
20 Year Net ROI$250,000
20 Year Net ROI$250,000
Total 4 Year Cost$157,000
Total 4 Year Cost$157,000
Grad Rate44%
Time to Graduate5
Loan Amt$33,900
Grant Money Received53%
9 (tie)4.0%4.0%8.6%8.6%$180,000$180,000$267,000$267,000$151,000$151,00043%5$49,50054%
9 (tie)Graceland University-Lamoni(Private)
Annual ROI4.0%
Annual ROI4.0%
Annual ROI8.6%
Annual ROI8.6%
20 Year Net ROI$180,000
20 Year Net ROI$180,000
20 Year Net ROI$267,000
20 Year Net ROI$267,000
Total 4 Year Cost$151,000
Total 4 Year Cost$151,000
Grad Rate43%
Time to Graduate5
Loan Amt$49,500
Grant Money Received54%
9 (tie)3.8%3.7%7.9%7.7%$180,000$177,000$268,000$265,000$162,000$165,00071%4$32,40027%
9 (tie)Loras College(Private)
Annual ROI3.8%
Annual ROI3.7%
Annual ROI7.9%
Annual ROI7.7%
20 Year Net ROI$180,000
20 Year Net ROI$177,000
20 Year Net ROI$268,000
20 Year Net ROI$265,000
Total 4 Year Cost$162,000
Total 4 Year Cost$165,000
Grad Rate71%
Time to Graduate4
Loan Amt$32,400
Grant Money Received27%
114.6%4.6%5.6%5.6%$179,000$179,000$199,000$199,000$121,000$121,00065%5$23,30026%
11University of Northern Iowa(Out-of-State)
Annual ROI4.6%
Annual ROI4.6%
Annual ROI5.6%
Annual ROI5.6%
20 Year Net ROI$179,000
20 Year Net ROI$179,000
20 Year Net ROI$199,000
20 Year Net ROI$199,000
Total 4 Year Cost$121,000
Total 4 Year Cost$121,000
Grad Rate65%
Time to Graduate5
Loan Amt$23,300
Grant Money Received26%
123.8%3.7%6.9%6.7%$157,000$154,000$220,000$217,000$142,000$145,00048%5$28,20036%
12Grand View University(Private)
Annual ROI3.8%
Annual ROI3.7%
Annual ROI6.9%
Annual ROI6.7%
20 Year Net ROI$157,000
20 Year Net ROI$154,000
20 Year Net ROI$220,000
20 Year Net ROI$217,000
Total 4 Year Cost$142,000
Total 4 Year Cost$145,000
Grad Rate48%
Time to Graduate5
Loan Amt$28,200
Grant Money Received36%
132.5%N/A6.3%N/A$155,000N/A$280,000N/A$241,000N/A86%4$18,40019%
13Grinnell College(Private)
Annual ROI2.5%
Annual ROIN/A
Annual ROI6.3%
Annual ROIN/A
20 Year Net ROI$155,000
20 Year Net ROIN/A
20 Year Net ROI$280,000
20 Year Net ROIN/A
Total 4 Year Cost$241,000
Total 4 Year CostN/A
Grad Rate86%
Time to Graduate4
Loan Amt$18,400
Grant Money Received19%
143.1%3.0%6.7%6.6%$153,000$151,000$245,000$243,000$183,000$186,00063%4$35,60027%
14Simpson College(Private)
Annual ROI3.1%
Annual ROI3.0%
Annual ROI6.7%
Annual ROI6.6%
20 Year Net ROI$153,000
20 Year Net ROI$151,000
20 Year Net ROI$245,000
20 Year Net ROI$243,000
Total 4 Year Cost$183,000
Total 4 Year Cost$186,000
Grad Rate63%
Time to Graduate4
Loan Amt$35,600
Grant Money Received27%
153.3%3.0%6.1%5.7%$150,000$142,000$221,000$212,000$167,000$176,00063%4$34,20025%
15Saint Ambrose University(Private)
Annual ROI3.3%
Annual ROI3.0%
Annual ROI6.1%
Annual ROI5.7%
20 Year Net ROI$150,000
20 Year Net ROI$142,000
20 Year Net ROI$221,000
20 Year Net ROI$212,000
Total 4 Year Cost$167,000
Total 4 Year Cost$176,000
Grad Rate63%
Time to Graduate4
Loan Amt$34,200
Grant Money Received25%

* N/A indicates school does not have an on campus living option.

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.


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