Best Value Colleges in Iowa 2020

The Best Value Colleges in Iowa for 2020

As a new school year begins and summer fades into memory, students are (mostly) hard at work earning their college degree.

Some may have just started their college career, others may be a few credits from finishing, but nearly all are there to graduate, get that diploma, and start earning a living in the real world. For most of us, though, our alma matter never really leaves us. We all like to think we went to the best school and got the best education, but that can’t be true for everyone, right?

Students in Iowa are no different, and that got us curious, so we looked into the data to identify which colleges provide the best opportunity to earn a good income post-graduation without breaking the bank to get there. Put another way, students who graduate from these colleges earn the most money relative to what they paid to attend.

Our data comes straight out of the most recent College Scorecard release, which tracks everything from attendance figures and acceptance rate to student debt and more.

At the bottom we’ve included a full list, but first, here’s a quick look at the top 10 best value colleges in Iowa:

  1. University of Iowa
  2. Iowa State University
  3. Palmer College of Chiropractic
  4. Drake University
  5. University of Northern Iowa
  6. Mercy College of Health Sciences
  7. Saint Ambrose University
  8. Mount Mercy University
  9. Simpson College
  10. Grand View University

Leveraging the data from College Scorecard, we looked at three variables:

  • The cost of attendance
  • Earnings 6 years post-enrollment (early career)
  • Earnings 10 years post-enrollment (established career)

From there, we limited our list to remove community colleges so we could focus specifically on primarily undergraduate institutions. Finally, we ranked the remaining 32 colleges on each attribute and averaged the three values to determine which ones had outcomes of strong career earnings in the short and long term without being prohibitively expensive.

When the dust had settled, University of Iowa held the title of the “Best Value College in Iowa.”

The Best Value Colleges in Iowa

RankCollegeCost of AttendanceEarly Career EarningsEstablished Career Earnings
1University of Iowa$21,875$47,700$62,000
2Iowa State University$19,878$44,000$56,000
3Palmer College of Chiropractic$22,230$43,800$53,600
4Drake University$49,402$54,300$68,700
5University of Northern Iowa$20,593$39,600$49,700
6Mercy College of Health Sciences$26,778$44,000$48,000
7Saint Ambrose University$42,922$41,500$50,500
8Mount Mercy University$43,185$43,600$48,400
9Simpson College$48,169$40,000$51,200
10Grand View University$35,403$39,800$45,200
11Wartburg College$50,153$40,700$50,600
12Loras College$41,934$38,200$50,200
13Upper Iowa University$41,442$41,200$45,500
14Luther College$52,524$38,400$53,200
15Grinnell College$63,838$36,700$61,000
16William Penn University$35,896$36,900$46,400
17Morningside College$41,996$38,000$47,900
18Coe College$53,261$38,700$50,000
19Graceland University-Lamoni$39,770$41,400$40,200
20Clarke University$44,363$39,700$44,800
21Dordt College$42,378$37,900$45,300
22Central College$49,214$37,300$48,400
23Purdue University Global-Davenport$19,555$29,100$40,100
24Briar Cliff University$40,794$37,000$44,400
25University of Dubuque$39,389$35,300$42,500
26Waldorf University$32,847$32,900$42,400
27Buena Vista University$44,645$36,000$42,600
28Faith Baptist Bible College and Theological Seminary$28,104$32,000$38,700
29Northwestern College$42,676$36,100$40,200
30Cornell College$53,877$34,500$45,400
31Iowa Wesleyan University$37,905$32,700$39,900
32Maharishi University of Management$39,730$22,900$30,400


About the author

Alison Blankenship
Senior Marketing Manager
I graduated Cum Laude from The Ohio State University (Go Bucks!) with degrees in Marketing and Communications. I’ve been working in the textbook industry for over 10 years, and my work has been featured by College Confidential, Mercy College of Health Sciences, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Pennsylvania Tribune, Montana Technological University, Oregon Live, and other organizations.

I’m an obsessive lover of dachshunds and a passionate reader of books. I’m an avid Pinner and poster, and I’m all over our Facebook page, Twitter account, Instagram and Pinterest.