Iowa Tuition Grant
Iowa Independent Colleges and Universities
Citizens of Iowa
The Iowa Tuition Grant (ITG) is a public-private partnership that is among the most highly advantageous to Iowa citizens and taxpayers. Through it, Iowa citizens gain three important benefits: greatly expanded college and university choices for their sons and daughters; hundreds of millions of dollars in economic activity in towns and cities across the state and; hundreds of millions of dollars in lower state spending for Iowa taxpayers.
Higher education in Iowa began with the establishment of an independent, non-profit college in Dubuque in 1839, an institution still operating today as Loras College. In the 181 years since then, this founding sector of higher education has grown to 36 non-profit colleges and universities in 23 Iowa towns and cities. These institutions provide an educational, cultural and economic anchor for all these Iowa communities and represent a foundational public-private partnership with Iowa’s citizens and taxpayers.
Educational Advantages for Students
Nearly 49,000 students are enrolled at independent, non-profit colleges and universities in Iowa. This is about 40% of total 4-year public and private non-profit enrollment in Iowa. This sector also generates about 40% of the bachelors, masters and doctoral degrees conferred in Iowa. The diverse sizes and academic offerings of these institutions provide Iowa students with high-quality alternatives to out-of-state or very large institutions. More than that, many Iowans seeking four-year degrees have family obligations that make it impossible for them to move far away for college. For many Iowans, nearby independent colleges are the only practical pathway to a degree.
Recognizing this need and opportunity, the Iowa Legislature in 1969 entered a partnership with the independent colleges through a program called the Iowa Tuition Grant. The ITG makes monetary grants to financially needy Iowa students to encourage them to attend an independent college. The ITG is received by more than 10,000 Iowa students each year and totals $48.8 million in annual state appropriations.
The ITG grants are matched 100% by the institutions the students decide to attend. In fact, Iowa’s independent colleges and universities provide a total of $583 million in non-loan, non-government financial aid to students every year, well more than 10 times the amount of the ITG state appropriation.
Economic Advantages for Towns and Cities
Iowa’s independent college and universities employ nearly 13,000 people in 23 towns and cities, from Des Moines, Davenport and Cedar Rapids to Oskaloosa, Lamoni and Orange City. The annual wages and benefits for these employees are more than $740 million and total expenditures by these institutions top $1.3 billion each year, making these institutions a large and stable base for the economies of their communities.
Fiscal Advantages for Iowa Taxpayers
Iowa’s independent colleges and universities have built billions of dollars worth of classrooms, laboratories, student housing, athletic facilities and other educational infrastructure, at no cost to Iowa taxpayers. The ITG relieves Iowa’s taxpayers of the burden of building and operating the facilities needed for tens of thousands of students. If all the Iowa students who attend a private, non-profit college would attend a public university, the State of Iowa would have to spend an additional $250 million each year. That’s only for operations, not counting annual infrastructure construction and maintenance.
The $48.8 million appropriation for the Iowa Tuition Grant:
- expands access to dozens of educational choices for Iowa students
- leverages billions of dollars worth of free educational infrastructure
- opens the doors to half a billion dollars in non-loan student financial aid
- relieves Iowa taxpayers of $250 million in annual operating appropriations
- partners with institutions that employ 13,000 Iowans and pay $740 million in annual wages and benefits in 23 Iowa towns and cities
For more than 50 years, the Iowa Tuition Grant has been a stunningly successful model of a public-private partnership for Iowa students, communities and taxpayers.
(Enrollment figures are from the Iowa College Student Aid Commission Fall 2020 report. Employment, wage and benefit, and financial aid figures are the most recent data from the U.S. Department of Education Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System.)