College educated students leaving Iowa at higher rates than other states

34% of Iowa's college-educated workforce leave the state, according to a report from the National Bureau of Economic Research
Published: May. 12, 2023 at 4:40 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - A report from the National Bureau of Economic Research said Iowa is below average at retaining college graduates.

State lawmakers give universities across the state of Iowa millions of taxpayer dollars to help educate the state’s workforce for certain professions. The report from the nonprofit research organization said around 8 states lose more of their college graduates than Iowa.

A spokesperson for the University of Iowa said its four-year graduation rate hit a new record this year and around 5,400 students will graduate this weekend. Data from the school said 95% of graduates found a job, continued their education or aren’t seeking employment.

TV9 spoke with a handful of students on campus about their plans to stay in the state after their time in school is over. A majority of those people said they made their decision to stay in the state based off job availability, salary and proximity to family/friends.

Grace Tobin, who is graduating law school this weekend, said she plans to practice law in Davenport. She said she can see herself leaving Iowa, but is staying because she found a job.

“I think Iowa is a beautiful place and people are so kind and I am so proud to be here,” Tobin said. “But, I think you have to challenge yourself and I no longer feel challenged in Iowa.”

Some students wanted to explore more of the world before settling on a home, like Ally Bauer. She said she is from Iowa City, but she wanted to understand life in another state after she graduates in graphic design.

”Something different, change of pace, just get out of the Midwest, see what people are like not in Iowa,” she said.

Kaitlyn Knap, who is a student at the University of Iowa, said she plans to leave the state after graduation because it’s difficult to find a job in public policy in the state. She also said her family isn’t from Iowa and is concerned about legislation passing affecting LGBTQ+ Iowans because she is part of that community.

”I don’t feel safe outside of Iowa City,” Knap said. “And I can’t imagine myself living here long term out of fear for myself, potentially for children in the future and friends. “

Knapp said even if those pieces of legislation were repealed, she’d also wants to see more conservation policies.