Enrollment at Iowa Colleges and Universities

Enrollment at Iowa Colleges and Universities

Enrollment at Iowa colleges and universities has declined since its peak* in 2010.1 Changes in postsecondary enrollment numbers reflect economic fluctuations.2 In 2008, at the start of the economic recession, enrollment at community colleges was increasing, but this reversed when the recovery began in 2010. These fluctuations are more apparent at community colleges and private, for-profit colleges as these sectors serve a larger population of older, non-traditional students who are more likely to choose employment over college enrollment than traditional students.3

Enrollment by Age and by Sector

Regent Universities and private, not-for-profit colleges and universities have the largest percentages of students ages 18 to 24, at 92 and 75 percent, respectively.4 These tend to be students who enroll in college shortly after completing high school. Regent Universities have seen steady increases in enrollment.

While 25 percent of Iowa’s community college population is 25 or older, there is a large population of students under the age of 18.4 This is due, in part, to Iowa’s Senior Year Plus Program, which encourages high school students to take community college courses at no charge, referred to as joint or concurrent enrollment. Iowa ranks first in the nation for the number of jointly enrolled students, growing by 2.4 percent between 2014 and 2015.5 Although total enrollment has dropped for many community colleges, joint enrollment has increased. Private, for-profit institutions have the oldest population of students among all sectors. In 2014, 4 out of 5 students were between the ages of 25 and 64.4

Minority Enrollment

Minority enrollment at Iowa colleges and universities has increased over 10 years,6 likely a reflection of increasing diversity among high school graduates. The percentage of 18-year-old Iowans who identify as a minority has risen 9 percent between 1992 and 2015.7 Equally, the percentage of Iowa resident postsecondary enrollment comprised of minority students has risen 9 percent in that time. However, the 2 percent gap that existed between the two groups in 1992 remains in 2015.

In 2015, 81 percent of Iowa resident college students were white, 5 percent Hispanic, 4 percent black, 2 percent Asian and 2 percent two or more races. Less than 1 percent of Iowa resident college students identified as American Indian/Alaska Native or Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander.6

Considering Iowa’s total 2015 undergraduate postsecondary enrollment (resident and non-resident), three-fourths of students were white and one-fourth of students were a minority. Black and Hispanic students each accounted for 6 percent of the total undergraduate enrollment. Iowa’s graduate students were more diverse. White students made up 63 percent of total graduate enrollment; 18 percent were non-resident aliens; and Hispanic, black and Asian students each made up 3 percent of total graduate enrollment. One in five graduate students in Iowa is not a U.S. citizen. These students are less likely to stay in Iowa, contributing to the emigration of Iowa’s most educated college graduates.8

1)     University of Iowa, Iowa College and University Fall Enrollment Report, 2008-2015.
2)     Pathe, S. (2014) Why are fewer people going to college? PBS Newshour.
3)     Fain, P. (2014). Nearing the Bottom. Inside Higher Ed.
4)     U.S. Department of Education. Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics.
5)     Iowa Department of Education. (2015). Joint Enrollment Fiscal Year 2015 Annual Report.
6)     Iowa College Student Aid Commission. (2016). Student and Faculty Ethnic Diversity Report.
7)     Woods & Poole Economics, Inc. Washington, D.C. Copyright 2015.
8)     Nikias, C. L. M. (2016). Keeping skilled PhD and Masters graduates in America is smart economic policy. The Hill.

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