2022 best colleges in Iowa

Students will find both high-quality universities and liberal arts colleges within the Iowa higher education scene, including Iowa State University, home to an on-campus Department of Energy research laboratory. Grinnell College, recognized as a Hidden Ivy, ranks among the Top 25 liberal arts colleges in the country and provides funding for students participating in unpaid or underpaid summer internships. A pioneer in the field of chiropractic medicine, Palmer College of Chiropractic was established in 1897 as the first school of its kind worldwide.

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Net cost: The median annual cost of all students that receive any aid. This does not refer to the “sticker price”, the price listed by the college.

Earnings: The median earnings of all bachelor-level students 10 years after enrollment. This includes both students that do and do not graduate, across all majors.

Payback: The amount of time in years it takes to pay off the median net cost by the median earnings. For this calculation, the median earning of high school graduates (in the school’s home state) are deducted from the median earnings.

Earningsplus: The difference between the school’s median earnings and the median earnings for all schools in the same state.

Rankings: The ranking order is based on the economic score. The economic score is calculated using a school’s payback and earningsplus performance.

Net cost
Payback
Earnings
EarningsPlus
Rankings
Ranking methodology
#1 in Iowa | #132 in National Universities

Iowa State University

Ames, Iowa

Economic score: 2.08

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

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Net cost: $15,496

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 2.3 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $57,351

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: + $4,513

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 89%
Graduation rate: 74%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#2 in Iowa | #175 in National Universities

University of Iowa

Iowa City, Iowa

Economic score: 2.43

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

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Net cost: $19,145

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 2.7 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $58,274

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: + $5,436

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 85%
Graduation rate: 71%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#3 in Iowa | #51 in Liberal Arts

Grinnell College

Grinnell, Iowa

Economic score: 2.55

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

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Net cost: $22,486

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 2.9 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $59,488

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: + $6,650

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 20%
Graduation rate: 85%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#4 in Iowa | #215 in National Universities

Drake University

Des Moines, Iowa

Economic score: 2.77

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

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Net cost: $29,432

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 3.3 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $63,528

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: + $10,690

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 68%
Graduation rate: 77%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#5 in Iowa

University of Northern Iowa

Cedar Falls, Iowa

Economic score: 3.32

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

View school
Net cost: $15,620

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 3.1 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $49,563

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: - $3,275

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 79%
Graduation rate: 67%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#6 in Iowa

Loras College

Dubuque, Iowa

Economic score: 3.35

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

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Net cost: $20,676

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 3.3 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $52,435

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: - $403

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 59%
Graduation rate: 67%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#7 in Iowa

Saint Ambrose University

Davenport, Iowa

Economic score: 3.79

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

View school
Net cost: $26,204

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 3.9 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $54,600

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: + $1,762

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 74%
Graduation rate: 66%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#8 in Iowa | #111 in Liberal Arts

Coe College

Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Economic score: 3.90

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

View school
Net cost: $19,955

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 3.9 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $52,967

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: + $129

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 80%
Graduation rate: 66%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#9 in Iowa

Grand View University

Des Moines, Iowa

Economic score: 4.00

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

View school
Net cost: $19,826

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 3.7 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $49,451

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: - $3,387

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 98%
Graduation rate: 62%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#10 in Iowa

Morningside College

Sioux City, Iowa

Economic score: 4.14

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

View school
Net cost: $21,337

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 3.9 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $50,044

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: - $2,794

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 69%
Graduation rate: 55%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#11 in Iowa

Upper Iowa University

Fayette, Iowa

Economic score: 4.25

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

View school
Net cost: $21,624

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 4 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $49,292

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: - $3,546

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 66%
Graduation rate: 50%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#12 in Iowa | #122 in Liberal Arts

Wartburg College

Waverly, Iowa

Economic score: 4.28

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

View school
Net cost: $21,787

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 4.3 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $52,864

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: + $26

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 72%
Graduation rate: 69%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#13 in Iowa | #123 in Liberal Arts

Simpson College

Indianola, Iowa

Economic score: 4.30

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

View school
Net cost: $19,151

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 4.1 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $50,628

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: - $2,210

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 87%
Graduation rate: 72%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#14 in Iowa

Mercy College of Health Sciences

Des Moines, Iowa

Economic score: 4.32

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

View school
Net cost: $21,989

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 4.3 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $52,855

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: + $17

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 92%
Graduation rate: 68%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#15 in Iowa | #127 in Liberal Arts

Central College

Pella, Iowa

Economic score: 4.44

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

View school
Net cost: $23,269

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 4.2 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $49,741

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: - $3,097

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 64%
Graduation rate: 71%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#16 in Iowa

Buena Vista University

Storm Lake, Iowa

Economic score: 4.82

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

View school
Net cost: $17,544

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 4.1 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $44,699

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: - $8,139

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 56%
Graduation rate: 59%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#17 in Iowa

Mount Mercy University

Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Economic score: 4.86

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

View school
Net cost: $20,857

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 4.6 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $50,047

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: - $2,791

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 77%
Graduation rate: 69%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#18 in Iowa | #141 in Liberal Arts

Luther College

Decorah, Iowa

Economic score: 4.89

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

View school
Net cost: $23,620

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 4.8 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $51,981

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: - $857

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 65%
Graduation rate: 79%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#19 in Iowa

Briar Cliff University

Sioux City, Iowa

Economic score: 5.52

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

View school
Net cost: $20,604

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 5 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $47,922

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: - $4,916

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: N/A
Graduation rate: 49%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#20 in Iowa

Northwestern College

Orange City, Iowa

Economic score: 6.16

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

View school
Net cost: $22,968

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 5.2 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $44,904

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: - $7,934

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 74%
Graduation rate: 67%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

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