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State Data

Higher education in the U.S. benefits from the participation of immigrant and international students. First and second-generation individuals comprise 28% of all students enrolled in higher education, a growing figure that underscores the importance of immigrant-origin students in the classroom and our workforce.

All Students in Higher Education in Iowa254,000
First-Generation Immigrant Students14,000
Second-Generation Immigrant Students11,000
International Students8,246

Note: First-generation immigrants were born abroad and immigrated to the U.S. Second-generation immigrants are U.S.-born individuals with at least one immigrant parent. First-generation immigrants include undocumented immigrants. First-generation immigrants do not include international students on a visa.

International students comprise only 5 percent of all students in higher education, but provide significant economic, academic and cultural contributions that enrich learning, enrollment and funding opportunities for American students.

International Students in Higher Education8,246
Economic Contributions of International Students in the State$240.6 million
Jobs Supported by International Students in the State1,827
Optional Practical Training (OPT) Participants1,602

Note: Optional Practical Training participants are a subgroup of international students.

Immigrant residents, including undocumented immigrants and DACA-eligible residents, play an important role in the state's economy, contributing spending power and paying federal, state, and local taxes.

All Immigrant Residents in Iowa176,006
Immigrant Share of Total Population5.6%
Undocumented Immigrants in State35,431
DACA-Eligible Residents in State3,746
Spending Power of DACA-Eligible Residents$64.9 million
DACA-Eligible Residents Federal Tax Contributions$8.4 million
DACA-Eligible Residents State and Local Tax Contributions$9.4 million

Note: DACA-eligible residents are a sub-group of undocumented immigrant residents.

Higher education helps prepare all students, including immigrant and international students, to fill critical career and skills needs.

State Immigrant Workers Fill Critical Skills Needs
Share of Nurses Who Are First-Generation Immigrants3.9%
Share of Health Aides Who Are First-Generation Immigrants7.4%
First-Generation Immigrant Faculty and Staff in Colleges, Universities and Professional Schools9,339
Share of First-Generation Immigrants With a Postsecondary Credential37%

Note: First-generation immigrants were born abroad and immigrated to the U.S.

You can find additional state data, including by congressional district, in the following resources by immigrant population (AIC) and international students (NAFSA).

State Policies

Evaluating Access for Undocumented & Refugee Students

State policies in four key areas – in state tuition, state financial aid, professional and occupational licensure, and driver licenses – play an important role in expanding access to higher education and workforce development for undocumented students. The section below on in-state tuition also includes policies related to refugee students.

  • In-State Tuition & State Financial Aid Access and Affordability

    Limited: Policies provide the state’s undocumented students, including DACA recipients, with access to in-state or reduced tuition in at least some public institutions.

  • Professional & Occupational Licensure Workforce Entry & Eligibility

    No State Policy: No policies identified that actively expand access to occupational licensure for individuals who do not have legal immigration status.

  • Driver Licenses & Identification Mobility

    Restrictive: Policies do not provide the state's undocumented residents with access to driver licenses and state identification, but DACA recipients can still obtain a driver's license or state identification card.

Enacted Policies

Undocumented residents, including DACA recipients, can access in-state tuition in at least one community college in Iowa.

Iowa does not provide undocumented residents with access to state financial aid, occupational and professional licensure or driver licenses and state identification.

In-State Tuition

Iowa does not appear to have statewide policies that expand access to in-state tuition to the state’s undocumented students.

The Iowa State Board of Regents guidelines allow the state’s public institutions to extend in-state tuition to individuals with “an immigrant status,” potentially allowing the state’s DACA recipients to pay in-state tuition if they meet the other residency requirements.

Undocumented students are eligible to pay in-state tuition at the North Iowa Area Community College. To qualify, students must attend and graduate from an Iowa high school, submit an official high school transcript providing evidence of high school attendance, and live in Iowa for the preceding 90 days.

Refugee In-State Tuition: The Iowa State Administrative Rules Section ARC 2021C provides “A person who has been certified as a refugee or granted asylum by the appropriate agency of the United States who enrolls as a student at a university governed by the Iowa state board of regents may be accorded immediate resident status for admission, tuition, and fee purposes when the person: (1) Comes directly to the state of Iowa from a refugee facility or port of debarkation, or (2) Comes to the state of Iowa within a reasonable time and has not established domicile in another state. Any refugee or individual granted asylum not meeting these standards will be presumed to be a nonresident for admission, tuition, and fee purposes and thus subject to the usual method of proof of establishment of Iowa residency.”

State Financial Aid

Iowa does not appear to have policies regarding access to state financial aid for undocumented students.

Additional Financial Aid

TheDream.US is a national organization that offers scholarships to DACA and undocumented students attending eligible postsecondary institutions across the country. In Iowa, undocumented and DACA students may be eligible for a scholarship to attend the following out-of-state institutions:

  • Christian Brothers University;
  • Delaware State University;
  • Eastern Connecticut State University; and,
  • Trinity Washington University (Women’s College).
Professional & Occupational Licensure

Iowa does not appear to have legislation that affirmatively extends occupational and professional licensure to undocumented individuals, including DACA recipients.

Driver Licenses

Undocumented immigrants in Iowa do not have access to a driver license or state identification card.

DACA recipients in Iowa are allowed to obtain a driver license or state identification card.

Effective Practices and State Resources

Spotlight on effective practices and policy, research, or community-based state resources.

  • Research

    Report: Higher Education and Success for Undocumented Students Start with 9 Key Criteria

    Higher Education is the key to achieving social & economic mobility in the U.S. The Education Trust analyzed 9 criteria in the 15 states with the largest shares of undocumented college students to determine whether state policies are helping or hurting undocumented students’ ability to access & complete college.

    Continue Reading
  • Effective Practice

    Higher Ed Guide to Tuition, Financial Aid, & Other Funding Opportunities for Undocumented Students

    An overview of in-state tuition, state aid, and other funding opportunities for undocumented students.

    Continue Reading
  • Research

    Immigrant-Origin Students in U.S. Higher Education

    The report shows that, in 2018, more than 5.3 million students, or 28% of all students enrolled in colleges and universities, were immigrants or the children of immigrants.

    Continue Reading