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Located on a 2,000 acre campus in Ames, Iowa, ISU calls itself “the most student-centered public university”. Founded in 1858, it was the country’s first land-grant institution. The original name was Iowa Agricultural College and Model Farm. Unusual for the time, ISU was co-educational from the beginning. Since 1959, ISU has been officially known as Iowa State University of Science and Technology.

Overview of Iowa State University

In addition to 100+ undergraduate majors, ISU boasts as many as 800 clubs for its students. Beyond being the largest university in the state, ISU is also the third largest school in the Big 12 Athletic Conference. ISU offers 110+ master’s degree programs and 83 doctoral programs. Its college of veterinary medicine is the oldest school in the country for veterinary training. ISU is also rated R1 for doctoral universities due to its very high research activity.

ISU has eight colleges and two schools. The eight colleges are:

  • Agricultural and Life Sciences
  • Ivy College of Business
  • Design
  • Engineering
  • Human Sciences
  • Liberal Arts and Sciences
  • Veterinary Medicine
  • Graduate School

The two schools consist of the Greenlee School of Journalism and Mass Communication, which is part of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and School of Education, which is part of the College of Human Sciences.

General Information

School Type Public
Campus Setting City: Small
Campus Housing Yes
Student Faculty Ratio 19:1
Graduation Rate 74%
Year Founded 1858

Student Enrollment

Total Students34,992


Undergraduate Student

Male 17,180
Female 12,441

Graduate Student

Male 3,115
Female 2,256

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Male 9,392
Female 8,854


Male 8,641
Female 8,146

Acceptance Rate92%

Male 92%
Female 92%

Enrollment 5,539

Male 3,019
Female 2,520
Application Fee $40
High School GPA Required
High School Rank Required
High School Transcripts Required
College Prep Courses Required
Recommendations NA
SAT/ACT Required
TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) Required
Application Deadline August 1
Common Application Accepted No

Tuition Cost & Financial Aid

For a recent academic year, ISU’ s tuition for in-state students was $9,320, while the tuition for out-of-state students was $24,508. Room and board on campus were $9,149. Ninety percent of freshman students at the school received some form of financial aid. The average amount of financial aid per undergraduate in a recent year was $7,880 in grants or scholarships. Pell Grants averaged $4,476, while federal student loans averaged $5,966.

The average net price, the cost remaining that a student must pay after financial aid has been applied, for full-time undergraduate students for a recent academic year was $15,195. This will of course be different depending on how much your family’s annual income is because that’s how your eligibility for financial aid is usually decided.

Average net price 2018-2019
Net Price $15,195
Average Total Aid $8,063
Students Receiving Financial Aid 90%
Room & Board $9,149

Sticker Price

  • Tuition In-State - $9,320
  • Tuition Out-of-State - $24,508
  • Books and Supplies - $1,041
  • Room & Board - $9,149
  • Other - $2,430


When looking into schools, it is vital to determine certain metrics. For example, retention rates show the number of first-time students returning to the school the following year. Schools with low retention rates may deal with various systemic issues concerning their academics, culture, or other factors. Graduation rates are focused on the percentage of first-time students who obtain their degrees within six years. Low graduation rates are also potential red flags.

ISU’s student-to-faculty ratio is 18 to 1. Its student population is approximately 33,400, of whom 28,000+ are undergraduates. Its retention rate for first-time students pursuing a bachelor’s degree is an excellent 87% of full-time students and 75% of part-time students. The overall graduation rate is also solid at 74%, which is somewhat above the national average.

As of a recent academic year, 92% of applicants were accepted by ISU. According to the school’s mission statement, “ISU will lead the world in advancing the land-grant ideals of putting science, technology, and human creativity to work.”

Student Population Total

Student Population 34,992

Evening Classes : Yes
Online Learning : Yes

Most Popular Programs & Majors

(# of Diplomas Awarded by Subject)

All Engineering Majors 1,652 Total Graduates / 24%
Mechanical Engineering 473 Graduates
Civil Engineering, General 161 Graduates
Industrial Engineering 156 Graduates
Chemical Engineering 152 Graduates
All Business Majors 1,180 Total Graduates / 17%
Marketing/Marketing Management, General 305 Graduates
Finance, General 245 Graduates
Logistics, Materials, and Supply Chain Management 170 Graduates
Accounting 166 Graduates
Agriculture, Agriculture Operations, and Related Sciences 755 Total Graduates / 11%
Animal Sciences, General 220 Graduates
Agribusiness/Agricultural Business Operations 154 Graduates
Farm/Farm and Ranch Management 122 Graduates
Agronomy and Crop Science 84 Graduates
All Biological & Biomedical Majors 380 Total Graduates / 6%
Biology/Biological Sciences, General 178 Graduates
Ecology 89 Graduates
Genetics, General 42 Graduates
Biochemistry 37 Graduates
All Education Majors 305 Total Graduates / 4%
Elementary Education and Teaching 205 Graduates
Agricultural Teacher Education 55 Graduates
Music Teacher Education 24 Graduates
Early Childhood Education and Teaching 21 Graduates
All Other Diplomas 38%

Outcome & Salary

College graduates will earn considerably more than non-college graduates over their careers. Graduates can expect to earn around $58,000 annually in their early careers, with a mid-career salary average of around $108,000.

For the average net education price of $74,000, the ROI for 10 years of salary earnings potential is $656,170, while the ROI for 20 years of salary earnings potential is $1,745, 170. That makes the 10-year projected ROI outcome $581,338 and the 20-year projected ROI $1,670,338.

Compare that to the national average salary of $38,792 for someone without a college education. Their 10-year projected income is $387,920 and their 20-year projected income is closer to $775,840.

Graduates Salary
College Grads Early Career Salary $56,100
College Grads Average Salary $68,434
College Grads Mid Career Salary $101,300
Return on Investment (ROI)
10 Year Salary Earnings Potential $684,340
20 Year Salary Earnings Potential $1,697,340
Cost of Education (Net Price) 4 Year $60,780
10 Year Projected ROI $623,560
20 Year Projected ROI $1,636,560
No College Education Salary Comparison
National Average Salary $38,792
10 Year Projected Income $387,920
20 Year Projected Income $775,840

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