Online Colleges in Iowa
Top Online Programs
Graduates of online colleges in Iowa have a wealth of job opportunities as the Hawkeye State's economy continues to grow. Iowa's unemployment rate remains the second lowest in the nation, according to the latest figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). In fact, the current employment boom now makes state officials worry about whether Iowa has enough skilled labor to fill the positions. A report issued by Georgetown University in 2015 suggested that 68% of all jobs in Iowa will require post-secondary education or training by 2025.
Some occupations in Iowa continue to expand faster than the national average. Grads from accredited online colleges in Iowa often find they receive multiple offers before they even leave school. Several of the nation's top colleges call Iowa home, granting affordable online programs in some of the most in-demand and high-paying fields in the state.
Job Outlook for Students With College Degrees in Iowa
According to a report by Iowa College Aid, professionals with a bachelor's degree or higher earned nearly 40% of the state's aggregate income. In Iowa, the average worker with an associate degree earns 40% more than one with only a high school degree. With a bachelor's degree, the average Iowa resident earns a median or $60,015 -- $25,000 more than someone with only a high school diploma.
Iowa's unemployment rate ranks among the nation's lowest. The jobs with the fastest growth rate all require post-secondary education. The occupation currently adding the most jobs, wind-turbine technician, does not necessarily require a degree, but it does demand certification beyond a high school education. The highest paying in-demand occupations go to professionals with a bachelor's degree or higher.
Unemployment Rate, August 2018
Annual Mean Wage, May 2017
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Cost of Online Colleges in Iowa
College costs in the Hawkeye State stack up well against the rest of the nation, unless you plan to attend an Iowa community college online. Tuition fees for a two-year school are $5,320, which is higher than the national average of $3,660. However, the situation reverses when it comes to four-year colleges. Iowa residents pay over a thousand dollars less for a traditional public university education.
You can often mitigate tuition costs by attending one of the accredited online colleges in Iowa. This proves especially true at the community college level. Even though online community colleges often charge the same tuition as their on-campus counterparts, they add value in other ways. You can save money on room and board, travel, and parking by enrolling digitally. In some cases, colleges charge distance learners more due to the additional technology fees.
Average Price for In-State Tuition and Fees by Institution Type, 2018-19
|Public Two-Year||Public Four-Year|
Source: The College Board
In-State vs. Out-of-State Tuition in Iowa
Generally, students from outside the state pay more to attend a public university than their in-state peers. This long-standing tradition came about because public schools get a large percentage of their funding from a state's tax revenues. To prevent residents from feeling as if they had to pay twice for a college education, states began granting significant discounts on tuition. In Iowa, nonresidents pay almost three times as much to attend a four-year school than Iowa residents, roughly the same as the national average.
Online education, again, often reduces costs for nonresidents at Iowa's colleges. At the University of Iowa, for example, distance learners pay the same tuition no matter their residency. The same is true at Iowa State and the schools in the state's community college consortium. Iowa State also participates in the Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance, a consortium of schools that allows students to take classes at all participating universities for the same affordable flat rate.
Average Tuition and Fees, 2018-19
|Public Two-Year In-State||Public Four-Year Out-of-State|
Source: The College Board
Financial Aid in Iowa
Financial aid has become essential for many college students. With rising higher education costs, finding help often means the difference between attending school and not attending school. Unfortunately, the Hawkeye State has the dubious honor of ranking in the top ten states nationwide when it comes to student debt.
The majority of colleges require those seeking financial aid to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This document gives you a measure on the amount of aid for which you may qualify. After filling out the FAFSA, Iowa residents can browse available scholarships and grants. The state sponsors 14 need-based scholarships, grants, and loan forgiveness programs through its Iowa College Aid program, awarding $68 million annually.
State Grant Aid per Full-Time Equivalent Undergraduate Student, 2016-17
Source: The College Board
Scholarships and Grants for Iowa College Students
Many states, communities, charities, and businesses sponsor scholarships that factor in considerations beyond academic achievement. Most consider a student's leadership potential, community service, and volunteerism when awarding financial aid.
Who Can Apply: These awards go to Iowa undergraduates enrolled in one of the state's eligible private universities. The state issues grants according to financial need. Full-time students may renew up to four times.
Who Can Apply: Designed to help less privileged students attend eligible Iowa universities, these state-funded grants come with strict eligibility rules. Applicants must come from the state's foster program, be the children of deceased public safety workers, be graduates of alternative high school programs, or be participants in federal TRIO or GEAR UP programs.
Who Can Apply: Recipients of this award must have worked at the famous Iowa State Fair in the past. Intended for undergraduates, the awards disperse to Iowa residents attending Iowa universities. Judges consider students' financial need, community service, Iowa Fair participation, and academic background.
Amount: Up to $5,000
Who Can Apply: Students in one of the state's two-year schools may be eligible for these grants. The state awards them based on financial need to Iowa residents enrolled at least part time.
Amount: Up to $900, renewable for a second year.
Who Can Apply: Nicknamed the Iowa Skilled Workforce Shortage Tuition Grant, Kibbie funds go to students pursuing careers in fields most needed by the state. Currently, these include nursing and allied health, biotechnology, information technology, advanced manufacturing, building trades, transportation, and logistics. Recipients must hail from Iowa, enroll at least part time at a community college, and demonstrate financial need.
Who Can Apply: Named after a former governor, these awards benefit Iowans who show academic and literary ability, financial need, and strong character. Judges rate students on GPA, ability to pay for school, two letters of reference, and a 500-word essay. Recipients must use the funds to pay for college in Iowa.
Who Can Apply: Judges award these scholarships on the basis of academic ability, achievement, community service, and level of need. Students must be from Iowa, but may attend school anywhere.
Amount: $1,000 a semester, initially. Up to $13,000 over four years.
Who Can Apply: Administered by the Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines, these grants help African American Iowans pursue their college dreams. Awards go to outstanding full- or part-time students at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.
Who Can Apply: PEIOWA distributes several scholarships to help Iowans pay for school. These include the Teachers of Tomorrow award, which benefits an Iowan interested in studying education, and the Ed Christian Memorial Scholarship, which benefits a student entering a scientific field.
Who Can Apply: The Keep Iowa Beautiful program grants these scholarships to green Iowans interested in studying sustainability, conservation, natural resources, or similar fields. Recipients must be Hawkeyes entering their first year of a baccalaureate program at an Iowa university.
Best Majors for Online Students in Iowa
Like many largely rural states, Iowa has seen strong demand for modern, technology-based occupations. Some of the fastest growing areas included fields like actuarial work, information security, and an array of healthcare fields, according to a report in the Des Moines Register. Jobs like physician assistants, information security analysts, and nurse practitioners remain in highest demand nationwide.
The most in-demand occupation in Iowa at the moment is wind turbine technician. Other booming areas include healthcare aides, travel clerks and ticket agents, and actuaries. If you want to work in the Hawkeye State upon graduating from one of the online colleges in Iowa, you might consider studying medicine, network security, nursing, or actuarial science. Additionally, two-year training in respiratory therapy, home health, personal care, and travel may also guarantee employment upon graduation. You can begin careers in many of these fields at online schools in Iowa, but wind-turbine technician programs require on-campus enrollment.
NursingAn undergraduate nursing degree fulfills many requirements for graduate programs in all of the above fields. If you find you need to start working early, you can easily transition to a home health aide position. Online nursing programs proliferate at universities across the state.
CybersecurityStudying cybersecurity can prepare you for one of the most in-demand jobs in Iowa. Officials expect the need for information security analysts to grow by 6% by 2019. Many employers hire graduates right out of accredited online colleges in Iowa. If you want to advance in the field, you can continue on to a master's degree while you work. Most of the skills transfer readily into other high demand IT fields.
Actuarial ScienceIowa has a strong need for business savvy professionals who can help companies assess risk. Labor statisticians expect actuarial jobs to grow by almost 6% in Iowa by 2019. Of all the in-demand jobs, actuaries earn some of the best wages in the state.
Resources for Online College Students in Iowa
Iowa College Aid: Established in 1963, Iowa College Aid distributes financial aid to Iowa residents. It also serves as an excellent clearinghouse of information on higher education. Iowa College Aid administers scholarships, promotes college access, and distributes data to state officials. The same data can help college students pick schools, identify career paths, and find funds.
State of Iowa Board of Regents: The Board of Regents governs the state's five public educational institutions, including the University of Iowa, Iowa State University, and the University of Northern Iowa. Prospective students can find information about attending these schools, the application process, transferring credits, and campus safety.
Iowa Association of Independent Colleges and Universities: A cooperative organization promoting Iowa's 24 private schools, this association hosts an array of useful tools on its site. Students can search for majors, research tuition prices, read admissions guides, and learn about the latest trends. A handy checklist guides you through the steps toward a degree at one of the private online colleges in Iowa.
Iowa Department of Education (DOE): The official state agency that oversees all levels of education, the Iowa DOE provides a variety of services on its website. You can read about life after high school, see the state's digital learning plan, and explore adult career and community college options.
IowaJobs: Sponsored by Iowa Workforce Development, IowaJobs is the largest job bank in the state. Students can see employers looking to hire and research career ideas that will inform their college decisions. The site's list of trends, programs, and available jobs can help you create a pathway to the life you want.