Education Levels In Iowa

Education Levels In Iowa

In 2014, of the approximately 2 million Iowans over the age of 25, 92 percent had earned a high school diploma or higher.11 The percentage of Iowans with high school diplomas was greater than the national average for all age groups.12 Iowa was the first state in the nation to achieve a high school graduation rate over 90 percent and is one of six states where the graduation rate of low-income students is above 82 percent, the national average for all students. However, the low-income student graduation rate still falls behind that of higher income students by 10 percentage points in Iowa.13

Of the 2 million Iowans over age 25, 60 percent participated in some education or training beyond high school, 47 percent completed a certificate or other high-quality postsecondary credential14, 39 percent have an associate degree or higher, 28 percent have a bachelor’s degree or higher and 9 percent have a graduate degree.11 Iowa’s most educated counties are Story and Johnson, homes of Iowa State University and the University of Iowa, respectively. Compared to the U.S., Iowa’s younger adults (age 25-44), are slightly more likely to hold a bachelor’s degree. However, the national bachelor’s degree attainment level is higher for adults age 45 and older. Iowa ranks 22nd in the nation in percent of the population over 25 with an associate degree or higher and 30th with a bachelor’s degree or higher.15

Reaching 70 Percent by 2025

Meeting the governor’s educational attainment goal of 70 percent of Iowans completing some postsecondary education or training by 2025 will require an increase of 10 percentage points, or 150,000 people.16 Therefore, the number of people in the workforce with postsecondary education must grow from the current value by an additional 15,000, on average, each year over the next 10 years. To achieve the level of educational attainment required for Iowa’s 2025 job market,1 the number of bachelor’s degree holders must increase by approximately 31,000.

Minority Attainment Gaps

Significant gaps exist in the educational attainment of minority populations in Iowa.17 Currently, 44 percent of black and 64 percent of Hispanic Iowans over 25 have not completed any education or training beyond high school. Only 12 percent of black and 9 percent of Hispanic Iowans have bachelor’s degrees as their highest degree attained. It is projected that 21 percent of jobs in Iowa will require bachelor’s degrees by 2025. Given the educational needs of Iowa’s workforce now and in the next decade, these gaps will limit black and Hispanic Iowans from having equal access to all career levels.

Many factors contribute to the lower likelihood that black and Hispanic high school students will enroll and eventually graduate from postsecondary institutions. These include the availability of financial resources, access to relevant information, support from peer groups and preparation for academic rigor.17 The GEAR UP Iowa program (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs) and 3-Step Process are two Iowa College Aid programs aimed at increasing awareness of postsecondary options and helping students complete necessary steps to continue their education.

11)   U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates. (2014). Sex By Educational Attainment for the Population 25 Years and Over.
12)   U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates. (2014). Educational Attainment.
13)   Civic Enterprises. (2016). Building A Grad Nation, Data Brief: Overview of 2013-14 High School Graduation Rates.
14)   Lumina Foundation. (2016). A Stronger Nation.
15)   U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates. (2010-2014). Educational Attainment.
16)   Woods & Poole Economics, Inc. Washington, D.C. Copyright 2015. Woods & Poole does not guarantee the accuracy of this data.  The use of this data and the conclusion drawn from it are solely the responsibility of Iowa College Student Aid Commission.
17)    Heymann, J. (anticipated 2016). Racial Educational Attainment Gap in Iowa. Iowa College Student Aid Commission.



Printed from the Iowa College Student Aid Commission website on May 25, 2018 at 12:22am.