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Top Colleges in Iowa

Written by Gabriel Jimenez-Ekman

Gabriel Jimenez-Ekman is a content editor and writer at Scholarships360. He has managed communications and written content for a diverse array of organizations, including a farmer’s market, a concert venue, a student farm, an environmental NGO, and a PR agency. Gabriel graduated from Kenyon College with a degree in sociology.

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Updated: May 7th, 2024

With public options like University of Iowa and smaller liberal arts schools like Grinnell College, Iowa is a great state to receive a college education. Check out our list below for some great Iowa colleges to consider.

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17 colleges
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Top College Top College: Affordability

Iowa State University

Ames, IA • Public, City

Ames, IA

Public, City

91% acceptance rate
25,537 undergraduate students
76% graduation rate
$15,351 average per year after aid
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Top College Top College

Grinnell College

Grinnell, IA • Private, Non-Profit, Town, Need-Blind

Grinnell, IA

Private, Non-Profit, Town, Need-Blind

11% acceptance rate
1,713 undergraduate students
87% graduation rate
$28,610 average per year after aid
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University of Iowa

Iowa City, IA • Public, City

Iowa City, IA

Public, City

86% acceptance rate
21,198 undergraduate students
74% graduation rate
$19,443 average per year after aid
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Drake University

Des Moines, IA • Private, Non-Profit, City

Des Moines, IA

Private, Non-Profit, City

69% acceptance rate
2,857 undergraduate students
78% graduation rate
$29,098 average per year after aid
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Top College Top College: Affordability

University of Northern Iowa

Cedar Falls, IA • Public, City

Cedar Falls, IA

Public, City

86% acceptance rate
7,812 undergraduate students
69% graduation rate
$14,017 average per year after aid
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Top College Top College: Affordability

Emmaus Bible College

Dubuque, IA • Private, Non-Profit, City

Dubuque, IA

Private, Non-Profit, City

99% acceptance rate
176 undergraduate students
75% graduation rate
$14,934 average per year after aid
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Wartburg College

Waverly, IA • Private, Non-Profit, Town

Waverly, IA

Private, Non-Profit, Town

83% acceptance rate
1,505 undergraduate students
70% graduation rate
$22,177 average per year after aid
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Luther College

Decorah, IA • Private, Non-Profit, Town

Decorah, IA

Private, Non-Profit, Town

76% acceptance rate
1,732 undergraduate students
73% graduation rate
$25,291 average per year after aid
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Simpson College

Indianola, IA • Private, Non-Profit, Town

Indianola, IA

Private, Non-Profit, Town

91% acceptance rate
1,167 undergraduate students
69% graduation rate
$20,680 average per year after aid
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Coe College

Cedar Rapids, IA • Private, Non-Profit, City

Cedar Rapids, IA

Private, Non-Profit, City

73% acceptance rate
1,347 undergraduate students
64% graduation rate
$18,515 average per year after aid
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Central College

Pella, IA • Private, Non-Profit, Town

Pella, IA

Private, Non-Profit, Town

75% acceptance rate
1,106 undergraduate students
66% graduation rate
$22,535 average per year after aid
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Buena Vista University

Storm Lake, IA • Private, Non-Profit, Town

Storm Lake, IA

Private, Non-Profit, Town

66% acceptance rate
1,451 undergraduate students
63% graduation rate
$18,031 average per year after aid
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Saint Ambrose University

Davenport, IA • Private, Non-Profit, City

Davenport, IA

Private, Non-Profit, City

72% acceptance rate
2,220 undergraduate students
64% graduation rate
$24,786 average per year after aid
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Cornell College

Mount Vernon, IA • Private, Non-Profit, Town

Mount Vernon, IA

Private, Non-Profit, Town

81% acceptance rate
1,045 undergraduate students
64% graduation rate
$21,543 average per year after aid
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Clarke University

Dubuque, IA • Private, Non-Profit, City

Dubuque, IA

Private, Non-Profit, City

89% acceptance rate
702 undergraduate students
54% graduation rate
$26,777 average per year after aid
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Upper Iowa University

Fayette, IA • Private, Non-Profit, Rural

Fayette, IA

Private, Non-Profit, Rural

65% acceptance rate
2,323 undergraduate students
39% graduation rate
$24,064 average per year after aid
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University of Dubuque

Dubuque, IA • Private, Non-Profit, City

Dubuque, IA

Private, Non-Profit, City

76% acceptance rate
1,582 undergraduate students
40% graduation rate
$26,800 average per year after aid
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About the Data

We sort colleges on our lists according to their Scholarships360 Top Colleges Index Score. This score is calculated using up-to-date information taken directly from the College Scorecard. Additional information is sourced from the colleges themselves, as well as other publicly available information. If you see an error, feel free to contact us.

State grants in Iowa

Iowa Tuition Grant

The Iowa Tuition Grant is a need-based grant eligible to all Iowa residents who meet a certain Student Aid Index (SAI) number on their FAFSA and plan on attending a private school in Iowa. Certain factors may affect the amount of funding you receive, for example those attending not-for-profit schools will receive more than those attending for-profit schools. For those who are full time students, they can receive this grant for up to two years. 

GEAR UP Iowa Scholarship

The GEAR UP Iowa Scholarship is eligible to students who join the GEAR UP Iowa cohort. Most students join the cohort in middle school. If you are an Iowa resident a part of GEAR UP, all you have to do to apply is fill out the FAFSA like normal. If you joined the GEAR UP cohort when you were younger, but have since moved to another state, you may still be eligible, but you’ll have to fill out a separate application.

Iowa Vocational-Technical Tuition Grant

The Iowa Vocational-Technical Tuition Grant is for Iowa residents attending community colleges. It is a need based grant that can be used for up to two years of education. The maximum award may vary each year depending on available funding. 

Iowa tuition reciprocity agreements 

Iowa is a part of the Midwestern Higher Education Compact (MHEC). This organization comes from legislation that made it so 12 midwestern states can work together to provide tuition discounts. Most of these discounts come in the form of providing out-of-state students the opportunity to pay in-state tuition. 

Here are the states in the MHEC:

Other college lists to explore

Frequently asked questions about colleges in Iowa

What is the hardest college in Iowa to get into?

The college in Iowa with the lowest acceptance rate is Grinnell College with only 11% of students being accepted. Though applying to a school that has a lower acceptance rate may be discouraging, it shouldn’t stop you from applying. Remember that so much more goes into college admissions than numbers and scores.

Does Iowa have Tuition reciprocity?

 Yes! Iowa is a part of the Midwestern Higher Education Compact (MHEC). This means that by going to school in one of the 12 partner states in the MHEC, you may be eligible to receive tuition discounts.

Why should I study in Iowa?

 Iowa has been ranked the third best education system in the U.S. according to college entrance exam scores, and this quality of education only continues through its wide range of higher education institutions. Iowa also has a generally low cost of living when compared to other U.S. states. The landscape of Iowa is a classic image of what you might think of when someone says midwest, with its rolling plains and extensive fields. And if you like cute animals, you’ll be happy to know that hogs actually outnumber people in Iowa.

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