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Overall Score: 78

Iowa State University

Iowa State University, which sits about 30 miles north of Des Moines, has an excellent agricultural college, as you might expect. But the math and science departments are also among the best at any state university. In fact, some of the school's 35,000 students come from all around the world to study there (although more than half of undergraduate students are Iowan). Iowa State is an even more attractive option when considering the low tuition costs, since the net price of a degree for in-state students, as calculated by Money, is about $73,000 total. Iowa State is a leader in virtual reality, with a research center it says is "aimed broadly at enhancing the productivity and creativity of people." Students often mention the amazing friendships they've made at ISU. This could be attributed to the school's many clubs or events designed to promote school spirit. Or it could be the excellent academics. Or it could just be because Iowans are a friendly bunch. But whatever the reason, graduates seem to agree that their time spent at ISU was worthwhile. Iowa State's graduation rate of 73% is above that of similar schools. After college, the median early career earnings are about $57,000, also slightly higher than similar colleges, according to Money’s calculations.


Est. full price 2022-2023
% of students who get any grants
Est. price for students who receive aid
Average price for low-income students


Acceptance rate
Median SAT/ACT score
SAT/ACT required?
Undergraduate enrollment

Financial Aid

% of students with need who get grants
% of need met
% of students who get merit grants
Average merit grant

Student Success

Graduation rate
Average time to a degree
4.4 years
Median student debt
Early career earnings
% earning more than a high school grad

Notes: Students who get merit grants are full-time undergraduates who had no financial need and were awarded grants. Graduation rate measures degree completion within six years for both transfer students and first-time students. Early career earnings are the median earnings for both graduates and non-completers, 10 years after they first enrolled.

Sources: U.S. Department of Education, Peterson’s, Money/Witlytic calculations.

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