The Need for Iowa College Aid

Overall college attainment

While Iowa ranks first in the nation for high school graduation rates, we fall to 22nd for associate degree attainment and 30th for bachelor’s degree attainment. About 60 percent of Iowans currently have some education or training beyond high school, and the state’s goal is to raise that percentage to 70 percent by 2025. Iowa College Aid’s mission of connecting Iowans to the resources they need for higher education will be crucial to meeting this goal.

Minority and low-income attainment

Minority students and low-income students are less likely to be academically prepared for college, less likely to enroll in college and, even if they do enroll, less likely to earn a degree. Iowa College Aid programs that promote college readiness and persistence in underserved populations can help to close these gaps.

Rising college costs

Since 2000, increases in college costs have far outpaced increases in median income. Tuition costs in Iowa rank 10th-highest in the nation for public two-year colleges and 33rd-highest for public four-year colleges. More than two-thirds of Iowans leave college with student loan debt, and Iowa’s average student loan debt ranks eighth-highest in the nation. One in three Iowans who file for financial aid are found to be unable to contribute any money toward their college education.


Average College Costs* Compared to Iowa Median Household Income

*Undergraduate tuition, fees, room & board at Iowa colleges & universities


Financial aid opportunities

The state grants and scholarships administered by Iowa College Aid total nearly $70 million a year to help Iowans pay for higher education. But the number of Iowans who file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) has been slipping, with low-income and nontraditional students among the least likely to file. The FAFSA is a necessary step to qualify for most financial aid, and 48 percent of FAFSA filers in Iowa in 2015-16 were eligible for the Pell Grant (average 2015-16 award in Iowa: $3,448). Data show that students who file the FAFSA are more likely to enroll in college. Iowa College Aid initiatives aimed at increasing FAFSA completion will help more Iowans obtain grants and scholarships and also serve to boost college enrollment.


Total Numbers of FAFSAs Filed by Iowa Residents and Total Number of Iowans Eligible for Pell Grant


Total Number of Iowa Financial Aid Applications Filed


Number of State Grant Awards per Year

Printed from the Iowa College Student Aid Commission website on May 24, 2018 at 3:06am.