Higher education attainment rates are good for Iowans and for the state as a whole, according to a report released today by Iowa College Aid.

“We found clear correlations between a more highly educated citizenry and a higher quality of life in Iowa,” said Mark Wiederspan, Iowa College Aid’s executive research officer. “College graduates in Iowa not only earn more money and experience higher employment rates than those with less education, they also are more likely to say they are healthy, more involved in their communities, and less reliant on government welfare programs.” 

The new report, “How Iowa and Its Citizens Benefit From Higher Education,” breaks data on Iowa college graduates into a four-part array:
  • Private economic benefits: Iowans with only a high school diploma are four times as likely to be unemployed as Iowans with bachelor’s degrees, and they make less than two-thirds the median salary of Iowans with bachelor’s degrees.
  • Private social benefits: College graduates in Iowa — those with either associate or bachelor’s degrees — are more likely to assess their health as good, more likely to take part in leisure activities, and less likely to smoke.
  • Public economic benefits: College graduates in Iowa are less likely to live in poverty and to use public social welfare programs, and Iowans with bachelor’s degrees pay more than twice as much in taxes as Iowans with only a high school diploma.
  • Public social benefits: College graduates in Iowa are more likely to volunteer, donate to charity, and vote in elections.

“We’ve seen research that suggests all these things are true, but this is the first time anyone has put all this data in one place at the Iowa level,” said Karen Misjak, executive director of Iowa College Aid. “It reinforces our message that as we help Iowans advance and succeed, we help Iowa grow.”

On average, it takes until about age 34 for cumulative earnings for those who earned associate’s or bachelor’s degrees begin to exceed earnings of those who didn’t go to college, accounting for lost time in the workforce and repaying college loans, the report shows.  

The report can be accessed here.