Iowa's Regent Universities Providing Strong Economic Impact

November 14, 2019

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Cedar Falls, Iowa -- Iowa’s Regent Universities provided $11.8 billion in added income to the state, equal to 6.2 percent of Iowa’s gross state product during FY 2017-18, according to a new economic impact analysis report from Emsi, a leading labor market analytics firm. The report, which was presented during the Board of Regents, State of Iowa’s November 13-14, 2019 meeting in Cedar Falls, also notes the sum total of university activity supports nearly 150,000 jobs (one out of every 14 jobs in Iowa) and returns nearly three dollars for every taxpayer dollar spent.

“Iowa’s public universities remain an excellent investment for Iowa taxpayers,” said Dr. Michael Richards, president of the Board of Regents. “The universities’ commitment to quality, affordable education produces tangible benefits to Iowans in all 99 counties.”

University activities include operations spending, construction spending, research spending and alumni impact, among other categories. These activities produce a positive impact on the state economy. For example, Regent University alums currently employed in Iowa added $6.2 billion in added income to the state during the 2017-18 fiscal year. Alumni from the University of Iowa, Iowa State University and the University of Northern Iowa earn $2.4 billion in net labor income above their non-college-going peers.

Students who earn a bachelor’s degree at one of the three Regents Institutions and work in Iowa earn an average of $54,000 per year, $22,500 per year more than those without bachelor’s degrees. Those who earn master’s degrees earn approximately $13,100 per year more than those with bachelor’s degrees. Students who go on to attain doctorate and professional degrees enjoy even larger bumps in average pay. The more education the student receives, the higher their average salary.

“Alumni from Iowa’s public universities graduate with the knowledge and skills necessary to attain higher-paying jobs than those who don’t attend,” Richards said. “The return on investment for students is very high.”

The Universities’ extension and outreach activities, not measured quantitatively in the report, nonetheless impact the state economy in numerous ways. More than 13,000 companies and organizations have been aided by extension and outreach offices, in addition to tens of thousands of Iowa farmers who have used extension services on their family farms.

“The Regents system brings value to Iowa in numerous ways,” Richards said. “Be it through the higher earnings of our graduates, the many public services our institutions provide, or the research our universities perform. Every Iowan can be proud of their public institutions.”

Full Reports: Economic Impact Reports

About the Study
Data and assumptions used in the study are based on several sources, including the FY 2017-18 academic and financial reports from the universities, industry and employment data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and U.S. Census Bureau, outputs of Emsi’s Multi-Regional Social Accounting Matrix model, and a variety of studies and surveys relating education to social behavior. The study applies a conservative methodology and follows standard practice using only the most recognized indicators of economic impact and investment effectiveness

About Emsi
Emsi is a labor market analytics firm that integrates data from a wide variety of sources to serve professionals in higher education, economic development, workforce development, talent acquisition and site selection. Emsi is a leading provider of economic impact studies and labor market data to educational institutions in the U.S. and internationally. Since 2000, Emsi has completed over 2,000 economic impact studies for institutions across three countries. For more information about Emsi’s products and services, visit

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Josh Lehman


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