The 2016 Condition of Higher Education in Iowa
The Iowa College Student Aid Commission (Iowa College Aid) is the only state agency that focuses on providing resources to Iowans to make education after high school possible. We offer programs and services for students and families who need help planning, understanding the necessity of education or obtaining financial support. This report is meant to provide a snapshot of higher education in Iowa.
We believe that “College Changes Everything,” but with recent reports about student loan debt and defaults, we hear the question “Is college worth it?” We invite anyone who asks that question to look at the whole benefit of higher education and to reconsider the definition of college. It’s not limited to two- and four-year degrees. It also includes certificates, licenses, apprenticeships and military training—any training that advances your knowledge and salary. Earnings for an Iowan with a bachelor’s degree are 60 percent higher than for an individual with only a high school diploma. For Iowans with less than a high school education, the poverty rate is six times higher.
In the past, the federal government and states focused on access to college; now the shift is to completion of college. Students who start college but don’t finish and incur debt without the means to pay it back are more likely to default on student loans. Research finds those individuals who complete their education are more likely to repay their student loans.
Degrees and credentials that have value are critical to the individual and to Iowa’s economy. As stated throughout this report, Governor Terry Branstad’s administration has adopted the goal that by 2025, 70 percent of all Iowans will have education or training beyond high school. To meet this goal, Iowa adults who started college and did not finish or never enrolled will need to advance their education. With an increase of low-income students in Iowa, we will have to acknowledge barriers and understand that they have fewer resources than other students.
We hope this report helps show how we can identify and redirect resources to help students succeed. It is no longer enough to get students through high school and enrolled in college. We have to make sure that once they enroll they are successful and will complete. It will take all of us to accomplish this task.
Executive Director, Iowa College Aid
"Iowa lags in college graduation rates, but we can change" Des Moines Register