Iowa Board of Regents

Iowa's Regent Universities Continue to Provide Outstanding Economic Impact

February 22, 2023

Urbandale, Iowa – The University of Iowa, Iowa State University and the University of Northern Iowa combined added $14.9 billion in income to the state of Iowa economy during fiscal year 2021-2022, according to an economic impact study from Lightcast, a labor market analytics firm. That figure of $14.9 billion is equal to approximately 7.1% of the total gross state product of the state. The study also notes that the total of university activity supports nearly 200,000 jobs in the state, which is one out of 10 jobs in Iowa, and returns nearly three dollars for every taxpayer dollar spent. 

“Iowa’s public universities are economic engines that drive Iowa’s economy,” said Michael J. Richards, president of the Board of Regents.  “The activities that our universities provide in educating students, doing cutting-edge research, and providing service are making a huge impact on the entire state.”

University activities that have a positive impact on the state include operations, construction and research spending, visitors and alumni, and the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, among many others. Alumni from the three universities, for example, generated a whopping $7.2 billion in added income for the state economy during fiscal year 2021-2022.

Student education is the keystone for all three universities, and the educated workforce the universities provide has a profound impact on the state economy.  Students who graduate from Iowa’s Regent universities earn significantly higher salaries over the course of their careers. For example, receiving a bachelor’s degree from one of the three Regent institutions earns students an average salary of $56,800, which is $23,200 more than those with just a high school diploma.  Put another way, over a working lifetime, the benefits of a bachelor’s degree will amount to $1 million in higher earnings than one with just a high school diploma or equivalent. Students that earn master’s, doctorate and professional degrees from the Regent institutions earn even greater increases in average salary.

The study also measures the impact of volunteerism in local communities and shows the value in the universities’ extension and outreach activities. More than 6,500 companies and tens of thousands of Iowa farmers have benefited from these extension and outreach services. 

View the Full Study

About Lightcast

Lightcast is a leading provider of economic impact studies and labor market data to educational institutions, workforce planners, and regional developers in the U.S. and internationally. Since 2000, Lightcast has completed over 2,800 economic impact studies for educational institutions in three countries. Along the way, we have worked to continuously update and improve our methodologies to ensure that they conform to best practices.

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