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2021 Best Colleges for the Money in Iowa

30 Colleges
$27,253 Avg Cost*
4.2 Years Avg Time to Graduate*

There are lots of options to chooose from today when trying to decide which college to attend. College Factual was founded, in part, to help students make the decision as to what would be the best school for them. Our Best Value Iowa Schools ranking is part of that endeavor.

Our analysis looked at 30 schools to determine which ones were the best for overall value in Iowa. This ranking doesn't just identify the colleges with the lowest costs. Rather, it highlights those institutions that offer excellent educational experiences for a lower cost than other schools of roughly the same caliber. So it is possible that College A may rank better than College B, while College B is less expensive to attend.

Learn more about our ranking methodology.

Our average cost calculation adds up all expenses, such as tuition, fees, room and board, books and supplies, and other expenses, and then subtracts the average financial aid awarded to a student. This gives a rough estimation of how much money you can expect to pay out-of-pocket or through loans each year.

Custom Rankings

We've developed a number of other tools and rankings to help you make your college decision. Start by filtering this list by location or field of study and then explore our other rankings that feature schools great for different groups of students such as veterans or returnings adults.

We've created a tool called College Combat that lets you create your own customized comparisons based on the factors that matter the most to you. Test it out by comparing your favorite schools against others you are considering!

Top Colleges for the Money in Iowa

Learn more about these excellent schools below:

#1

Iowa State University

Ames, Iowa

Our 2021 rankings named Iowa State University the best school for overall value in Iowa for students working on their bachelor’s degree. Iowa State University is a large public school located in Ames, Iowa that handed out 7,380 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

It takes the average student at Iowa State about 4.4 years to graduate, and on average, the annual cost to attend the school is $16,588. This means that the average student pays around $73,319 to get a bachelor’s degree from Iowa State. If you can shave even one term off your degree, you can save a substantial amount of money.

Students who start out at the school are likely to stick around. The freshman retention rate is 87%. In addition to its best value ranking, and one of the reasons why the school is on the list, Iowa State is ranked #4 for overall quality in Iowa.

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#2

University of Iowa

Iowa City, Iowa

A rank of #2 on our Best Colleges for the Money in Iowa list means University of Iowa is a great place for students working on their bachelor’s degree. Iowa is a public institution located in Iowa City, Iowa. The school has a large population, and it awarded 5,811 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

It takes about 4.3 years for the average student at Iowa to complete their degree, and the yearly average cost to attend the school is $19,188. When we combine these numbers, we estimate that the cost to get a bachelor’s degree from Iowa is $82,700. The sooner a student graduates, the more money they can save.

Students who start out at the school are likely to stick around. The freshman retention rate is 86%. Iowa did well in our quality rankings, too. It placed #3 on our Best Colleges in Iowa list.

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#3

University of Northern Iowa

Cedar Falls, Iowa

The excellent bachelor’s degree programs at University of Northern Iowa helped the school earn the #3 place on this year’s ranking of the best schools for the money in Iowa. UNI is a public institution located in Cedar Falls, Iowa. The school has a fairly large population, and it awarded 2,500 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

It takes about 4.4 years for the average student at UNI to complete their degree, and the yearly average cost to attend the school is $17,995. Looking at these numbers together, we estimate that the average cost of a bachelor’s degree from UNI is about $79,898. When you graduate sooner, you can save a lot of money.

The low student loan default rate of 2.9% is a good sign that students have an easier time paying off their loans than they might at other schools. For comparison, the national default rate is 10.1%.

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#4

Emmaus Bible College

Dubuque, Iowa

The excellent bachelor’s degree programs at Emmaus Bible College helped the school earn the #4 place on this year’s ranking of the best schools for the money in Iowa. Emmaus Bible College is a small private not-for-profit school located in Dubuque, Iowa that handed out 91 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

The average student at Emmaus Bible College graduates in less than 4.4 years, and the yearly average cost to attend the school is $17,636. This makes the estimated cost of a bachelor’s degree from Emmaus Bible College be around $76,893. When students graduate in a lesser amount of time, they can save thousands of dollars.

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#5

Central College

Pella, Iowa

You’ll be in good company if you decide to attend Central College. It ranked #5 on our 2021 Best Value Colleges in Iowa list. Central is located in Pella, Iowa and has a small student population. In 2018-2019, this school awarded 290 bachelor’s degrees to qualified undergradutates.

The average amount of time it takes for a student to receive their degree at Central is 4.1 years, and the yearly average cost to attend the school is $28,778. Looking at these numbers together, we estimate that the average cost of a bachelor’s degree from Central is about $116,839. When you graduate sooner, you can save a lot of money.

The student loan default rate at the school is 2.5%, which is quite low when compared to the national default rate of 10.1%.

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#6

Northwestern College

Orange City, Iowa

Northwestern College ranked #6 on this year’s Best Colleges for the Money in Iowa list. NWC is a private not-for-profit institution located in Orange City, Iowa. The school has a small population, and it awarded 258 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

At NWC, the average time it takes a student to graduate is 4.1 years, and it costs about $25,365 per year to attend the school. This means that the average student pays around $104,757 to get a bachelor’s degree from NWC. When students graduate in a lesser amount of time, they can save thousands of dollars.

The student loan default rate at the school is 2.7%, which is quite low when compared to the national default rate of 10.1%.

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#7

Luther College

Decorah, Iowa

Luther College landed the #7 spot on the 2021 Best Value Colleges in Iowa ranking. Decorah, Iowa is the setting for this small institution of higher learning. The private not-for-profit school handed out bachelor’s degrees to 591 students in 2018-2019.

At Luther, the average time it takes a student to graduate is 4.1 years, and the yearly average cost to attend the school is $30,676. Thus, the average cost to get a bachelor’s degree from the Luther is $125,772. When students graduate in a lesser amount of time, they can save thousands of dollars.

The student loan default rate at the school is 2.4%, which is quite low when compared to the national default rate of 10.1%. In addition to its best value ranking, and one of the reasons why the school is on the list, Luther is ranked #5 for overall quality in Iowa.

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With a ranking of #8, Maharishi University of Management did quite well on the 2021 Best Colleges for the Money in Iowa list. Maharishi University of Management is a small private not-for-profit school located in Fairfield, Iowa that handed out 115 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

At MUM, the average time it takes a student to graduate is 4.3 years, and on average, the annual cost to attend the school is $16,944. When we combine these numbers, we estimate that the cost to get a bachelor’s degree from MUM is $72,181. The sooner a student graduates, the more money they can save.

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#9

Coe College

Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Coe College ranked #9 on this year’s Best Colleges for the Money in Iowa list. Located in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, the small private not-for-profit school handed out 411 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

The average student at Coe graduates in less than 4.0 years, and the estimated yearly cost for the school is $28,854. Looking at these numbers together, we estimate that the average cost of a bachelor’s degree from Coe is about $116,859. When you graduate sooner, you can save a lot of money.

The school has an impressive student loan default rate. It’s only 2.2%, which is much lower than the national rate of 10.1%.

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Faith Baptist Bible College and Theological Seminary did quite well in the 2021 Best Value Colleges in Iowa ranking, coming in at #10. FBBC&TS is located in Ankeny, Iowa and has a small student population. In 2018-2019, this school awarded 40 bachelor’s degrees to qualified undergradutates.

It takes the average student at FBBC&TS about 4.2 years to graduate, and it costs about $18,006 per year to attend the school. This makes the estimated cost of a bachelor’s degree from FBBC&TS be around $75,985. The sooner a student graduates, the more money they can save.

The low student loan default rate of 2.9% is a good sign that students have an easier time paying off their loans than they might at other schools. For comparison, the national default rate is 10.1%.

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#11

Loras College

Dubuque, Iowa

Loras College came in at #11 in this year’s edition of the Best Colleges for the Money in Iowa ranking. Dubuque, Iowa is the setting for this small institution of higher learning. The private not-for-profit school handed out bachelor’s degrees to 429 students in 2018-2019.

The average amount of time it takes for a student to receive their degree at Loras is 4.1 years, and it costs about $25,750 per year to attend the school. This makes the estimated cost of a bachelor’s degree from Loras be around $106,348. When students graduate in a lesser amount of time, they can save thousands of dollars.

The student loan default rate at the school is 3.7%, which is quite low when compared to the national default rate of 10.1%.

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#12

Wartburg College

Waverly, Iowa

Wartburg College landed the #12 spot on the 2021 Best Value Colleges in Iowa ranking. Wartburg is a private not-for-profit institution located in Waverly, Iowa. The school has a small population, and it awarded 316 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

It takes the average student at Wartburg about 4.1 years to graduate, and the yearly average cost to attend the school is $27,381. This makes the estimated cost of a bachelor’s degree from Wartburg be around $111,714. The sooner a student graduates, the more money they can save.

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#13

Cornell College

Mount Vernon, Iowa

Cornell College came in at #13 in this year’s edition of the Best Colleges for the Money in Iowa ranking. Cornell College is located in Mount Vernon, Iowa and has a small student population. In 2018-2019, this school awarded 268 bachelor’s degrees to qualified undergradutates.

The average amount of time it takes for a student to receive their degree at Cornell College is 4.1 years, and on average, the annual cost to attend the school is $34,246. When we combine these numbers, we estimate that the cost to get a bachelor’s degree from Cornell College is $140,066. When you graduate sooner, you can save a lot of money.

The student loan default rate at the school is 3.9%, which is quite low when compared to the national default rate of 10.1%. Cornell College also claimed a spot on our Best Colleges in Iowa list. It’s in the top 20% of all schools in this category.

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#14

Drake University

Des Moines, Iowa

Drake University did quite well in the 2021 Best Value Colleges in Iowa ranking, coming in at #14. Drake is a private not-for-profit institution located in Des Moines, Iowa. The school has a small population, and it awarded 896 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

The average amount of time it takes for a student to receive their degree at Drake is 4.1 years, and the average full-time cost to attend the school is around $38,053. Thus, the average cost to get a bachelor’s degree from the Drake is $156,398. When students graduate in a lesser amount of time, they can save thousands of dollars.

The student loan default rate at the school is 2.4%, which is quite low when compared to the national default rate of 10.1%. Drake also made our Best Colleges in Iowa list, coming in at #2.

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#15

Dordt College

Sioux Center, Iowa

Dordt College did quite well in the 2021 Best Value Colleges in Iowa ranking, coming in at #15. Dordt is located in Sioux Center, Iowa and has a small student population. In 2018-2019, this school awarded 384 bachelor’s degrees to qualified undergradutates.

At Dordt, the average time it takes a student to graduate is 4.1 years, and it costs about $32,234 per year to attend the school. When we combine these numbers, we estimate that the cost to get a bachelor’s degree from Dordt is $130,870. When you graduate sooner, you can save a lot of money.

The low student loan default rate of 2.1% is a good sign that students have an easier time paying off their loans than they might at other schools. For comparison, the national default rate is 10.1%.

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#16

Grinnell College

Grinnell, Iowa

Grinnell College landed the #16 spot on the 2021 Best Value Colleges in Iowa ranking. Grinnell is located in Grinnell, Iowa and has a small student population. In 2018-2019, this school awarded 524 bachelor’s degrees to qualified undergradutates.

The average student at Grinnell graduates in less than 4.1 years, and the estimated yearly cost for the school is $40,716. This makes the estimated cost of a bachelor’s degree from Grinnell be around $166,528. The sooner a student graduates, the more money they can save.

The student loan default rate at the school is 1.0%, which is quite low when compared to the national default rate of 10.1%. In addition to its best value ranking, and one of the reasons why the school is on the list, Grinnell is ranked #1 for overall quality in Iowa.

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#17

Simpson College

Indianola, Iowa

Simpson College came in at #17 in this year’s edition of the Best Colleges for the Money in Iowa ranking. Located in Indianola, Iowa, the small private not-for-profit school awarded 464 diplomas to qualifed bachelor’s degree students in 2018-2019.

The average amount of time it takes for a student to receive their degree at Simpson College is 4.1 years, and the estimated yearly cost for the school is $31,845. This makes the estimated cost of a bachelor’s degree from Simpson College be around $130,246. When students graduate in a lesser amount of time, they can save thousands of dollars.

The low student loan default rate of 4.5% is a good sign that students have an easier time paying off their loans than they might at other schools. For comparison, the national default rate is 10.1%.

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#18

Saint Ambrose University

Davenport, Iowa

Saint Ambrose University did quite well in the 2021 Best Value Colleges in Iowa ranking, coming in at #18. Located in Davenport, Iowa, the small private not-for-profit school handed out 612 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

It takes the average student at St. Ambrose University about 4.2 years to graduate, and on average, the annual cost to attend the school is $31,050. This means that the average student pays around $130,720 to get a bachelor’s degree from St. Ambrose University. When students graduate in a lesser amount of time, they can save thousands of dollars.

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#19

Clarke University

Dubuque, Iowa

Clarke University ranked #19 on this year’s Best Colleges for the Money in Iowa list. Dubuque, Iowa is the setting for this small institution of higher learning. The private not-for-profit school handed out bachelor’s degrees to 182 students in 2018-2019.

It takes the average student at Clarke about 4.0 years to graduate, and the yearly average cost to attend the school is $31,204. Putting this cost and the average time to graduate together, we find that the average amount you’ll pay to get a bachelor’s degree from Clarke is $126,064. If you can shave even one term off your degree, you can save a substantial amount of money.

With a student-to-faculty rate of 8 to 1, it’s easy to see that the school is committed to helping their undergraduates succeed.

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#20

Morningside College

Sioux City, Iowa

Morningside College landed the #20 spot on the 2021 Best Value Colleges in Iowa ranking. This small private not-for-profit school is located in Sioux City, Iowa, and it awarded 337 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

The average amount of time it takes for a student to receive their degree at Morningside is 4.1 years, and on average, the annual cost to attend the school is $27,371. Thus, the average cost to get a bachelor’s degree from the Morningside is $113,042. The sooner a student graduates, the more money they can save.

The school has an impressive student loan default rate. It’s only 3.7%, which is much lower than the national rate of 10.1%.

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#21

Mount Mercy University

Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Mount Mercy University did quite well in the 2021 Best Value Colleges in Iowa ranking, coming in at #21. Mount Mercy is a small private not-for-profit school situated in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. It awarded 493 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

The average amount of time it takes for a student to receive their degree at Mount Mercy is 4.3 years, and it costs about $31,989 per year to attend the school. This means that the average student pays around $137,233 to get a bachelor’s degree from Mount Mercy. When students graduate in a lesser amount of time, they can save thousands of dollars.

The school has an impressive student loan default rate. It’s only 3.5%, which is much lower than the national rate of 10.1%.

Full Mount Mercy University Report

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#22

Grand View University

Des Moines, Iowa

With a ranking of #22, Grand View University did quite well on the 2021 Best Colleges for the Money in Iowa list. Grand View University is located in Des Moines, Iowa and has a small student population. In 2018-2019, this school awarded 473 bachelor’s degrees to qualified undergradutates.

It takes the average student at Grand View University about 4.3 years to graduate, and the estimated yearly cost for the school is $27,098. This makes the estimated cost of a bachelor’s degree from Grand View University be around $117,605. The sooner a student graduates, the more money they can save.

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#23

Briar Cliff University

Sioux City, Iowa

Briar Cliff University did quite well in the 2021 Best Value Colleges in Iowa ranking, coming in at #23. Briar Cliff is a small private not-for-profit school situated in Sioux City, Iowa. It awarded 240 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

The average amount of time it takes for a student to receive their degree at Briar Cliff is 4.2 years, and it costs about $28,766 per year to attend the school. When we combine these numbers, we estimate that the cost to get a bachelor’s degree from Briar Cliff is $119,379. If you can shave even one term off your degree, you can save a substantial amount of money.

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Graceland University - Lamoni ranked #24 on this year’s Best Colleges for the Money in Iowa list. Graceland Lamoni is a small private not-for-profit school situated in Lamoni, Iowa. It awarded 401 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

The average student at Graceland Lamoni graduates in less than 4.2 years, and the average full-time cost to attend the school is around $28,768. This makes the estimated cost of a bachelor’s degree from Graceland Lamoni be around $121,113. When students graduate in a lesser amount of time, they can save thousands of dollars.

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#25

William Penn University

Oskaloosa, Iowa

William Penn University landed the #25 spot on the 2021 Best Value Colleges in Iowa ranking. William Penn University is a private not-for-profit institution located in Oskaloosa, Iowa. The school has a small population, and it awarded 299 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

It takes the average student at William Penn University about 4.4 years to graduate, and the estimated yearly cost for the school is $24,823. Looking at these numbers together, we estimate that the average cost of a bachelor’s degree from William Penn University is about $108,228. The sooner a student graduates, the more money they can save.

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Notes and References

Footnotes

*These averages are for the top 25 schools only.

  • For our state-specific rankings, we use in-state tuition to calculate average cost. For our national and regional rankings, we use a weighted average of in-state and non-resident tuition.

References

  • The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), a branch of the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) serves as the core of our data about colleges.
  • Some other college data, including much of the graduate earnings data, comes from the U.S. Department of Education’s (College Scorecard).
  • Information about the national average student loan default rate is from the U.S. Department of Education and refers to data about the 2016 borrower cohort tracking period for which the cohort default rate (CDR) was 10.1%.

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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