Public Schools and Colleges in Iowa

The state of Iowa is home to 19 public colleges and universities. Get information about several public schools to find the school for you based on your what you consider the most important criteria.

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If you want to go to a public school in Iowa, you have three 4-year universities and several community colleges scattered across the state to choose from. You can see which schools are the largest, which ones offer the lowest average net price and more, according to data from the National Center for Education Statistics.

Iowa Schools Near Large Cities

Of the public schools in Iowa, 16 of them are 2-year community colleges. The 4-year schools are Iowa State University in Ames, the University of Iowa in Iowa City, and the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls. If you live or want to live near a larger city, but aren't ready to commit to a university, the following community colleges are in some of the larger cities in Iowa:

  • Eastern Iowa Community College District (Davenport)
  • Hawkeye Community College (Waterloo)
  • Iowa Western Community College (Council Bluffs)
  • Kirkwood Community College (Cedar Rapids)
  • Western Iowa Tech Community College (Sioux City)

Largest Schools in Iowa

It's probably not surprising that the three public universities in Iowa are also among those with the largest student populations. Student population may offer diversity when it comes to campus activities, clubs and events, but it could be an indicator of the student-to-teacher ratio in the classroom. All three universities offer programs at the bachelor's, master's and doctoral levels, while each public community college in the state offers specialized certificate programs and associate degree programs. The following public schools in Iowa had the highest student enrollment in the 2014-2015 school year:

  • Iowa State University (34,435)
  • University of Iowa (29,970)
  • Des Moines Area Community College (23,526)
  • Kirkwood Community College (14,190)
  • University of Northern Iowa (11,928)

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Agriculture
  • Architecture
  • Biological and Biomedical Sciences
  • Business
  • Communications and Journalism
  • Computer Sciences
  • Culinary Arts and Personal Services
  • Education
  • Engineering
  • Legal
  • Liberal Arts and Humanities
  • Mechanic and Repair Technologies
  • Medical and Health Professions
  • Physical Sciences
  • Psychology
  • Transportation and Distribution
  • Visual and Performing Arts

Lowest Net Price

The cost of attending college and the amount of debt a student may incur are two important factors when searching for a school. NCES determines net price by taking the total costs involved in attending a school and subtracting the average amount of financial aid typically awarded to full-time undergrads at that school. The following five public colleges offered the lowest net prices in Iowa as of 2013-2014 (based on rates for Iowa residents):

  • Western Iowa Tech Community College in Sioux City ($6,812)
  • Southeastern Community College in West Burlington ($7,238)
  • Iowa Central Community College in Fort Dodge ($7,471)
  • North Iowa Area Community College in Mason City ($7,593)
  • Indian Hills Community College in Ottumwa ($8,317)

Highest Graduation Rate

Students considering a specific college may want to know how many students actually leave the school with degrees. The overall graduation rate for a college includes the number of students who completed their studies in 150% of 'normal time' (e.g. six years would be normal for a bachelor's degree). The following public Iowa colleges have the highest graduation rates for all full-time undergraduate students:

  • University of Iowa in Iowa City (70% graduation rate)
  • Iowa State University in Ames (69% graduation rate)
  • University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls (64% graduation rate)
  • Northwest Iowa Community College in Sheldon (54% graduation rate)
  • Iowa Lakes Community College in Estherville (48% graduation rate)

When you're really to look for the right college for you, it's recommended you consider several factors, including cost, location, graduation rate and school size.

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