Iowa Student Loans: Debt Stats, Repayment Programs and Refinancing Loans

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Refinance rates with Laurel Road start at 1.89%.

Checking your rates won’t affect your score.

Check out Laurel Road

In Iowa, borrowers have an average federal and private student loan balance of $29,956, 18% less than the national average of $36,689 and sixth-lowest in the country.

To help make the cost of a college education more affordable, the state has multiple scholarships and grant programs for its residents. There are also several student loan repayment assistance programs for existing student loan borrowers who live and work in the state.

Here’s what you need to know about your repayment options for Iowa student loans.

Iowa student loans: Borrowers owe average of $29,956 in federal, private debt — and more facts

To limit your college expenses, opting for a public in-state university can be a smart idea. Iowa has three four-year public universities: The University of Iowa, the University of Northern Iowa and Iowa State University.

In addition, the state has numerous community colleges to choose from, and its selection of private colleges includes the University of Dubuque, Northwestern College, Grinnell College and Drake University.

If you decide to go to school within the state, you may qualify for one of Iowa’s six grant and scholarship programs:

  • All Iowa Opportunity Scholarship: This scholarship is for Iowa students who attend eligible Iowa colleges and universities, and it covers a portion of their tuition and fees. For the 2020-21 academic year, the maximum scholarship is $4,644 and is renewable for up to eight full-time semesters.
  • Future Ready Iowa Last-Dollar Scholarship: Iowa high school graduates and adult learners can receive funds for the remaining gap between federal and state financial aid and the cost of tuition and qualified fees at their selected school (community colleges and accredited private institutions).
  • Iowa National Guard Service Scholarship: Iowa National Guard members who attend eligible Iowa colleges and universities may receive up to 100% of the regent tuition rate. For the 2020-21 academic year, the regent tuition rate is $9,274.
  • Iowa Tuition Grant: Iowa residents enrolled at one of the state’s private colleges or universities may qualify for a grant to cover some or all of tuition and fees.
  • Iowa Vocational-Technical Tuition Grant: Iowa residents who enroll in career or technical education programs at Iowa community colleges can receive up to $900 a year for up to two years with this grant.
  • Kibbie Grant: Iowa residents enrolled at state community colleges and pursuing specific career or technical education programs can qualify for this grant that pays for up to 50% of the average Iowa community college tuition and fees. Recipients can receive the grant for up to two years.

Student loan debt in Iowa’s largest county: Polk

Student loan debt by ZIP code in Iowa’s largest city: Des Moines

Loan repayment programs for Iowa residents

Besides federal loan forgiveness programs like Public Service Loan Forgiveness and Teacher Loan Forgiveness, Iowa residents with student loan debt may be eligible for one of the state’s loan repayment assistance programs.

Health Care Loan Repayment Program

The Health Care Loan Repayment Program gives eligible health care professionals up to $6,000 — or 20% of their outstanding student loan balance, whichever is less — to repay their federal student loans.

In return, award recipients must work full time for at least five years in a designated service commitment area. The following health care professionals are eligible for the program:

  • Advanced registered nurse practitioners
  • Nurse educators teaching full time at eligible Iowa colleges and universities
  • Physician assistants
  • Registered nurses

Loan repayment eligibility lasts for a maximum of five consecutive years.

Health Professional Recruitment Program

The Health Professional Recruitment Program provides eligible health care professionals up to $12,500 in loan repayment assistance. Recipients can receive the award for up to four years, for a maximum of $50,000 in assistance. As part of the program, health care providers must agree to work in high-need areas.

The following health care professionals are eligible for this program:

  • Osteopathic doctors
  • Physical therapists
  • Physician assistants
  • Podiatrists

The program can only be used to repay federal Stafford loans (commonly known as direct loans) and grad PLUS loans. However, borrowers who refinance their loans after signing a contract can continue to receive the benefit if they contact Iowa Student Aid and provide loan documentation.

John R. Justice Student Loan Repayment Program

A federally funded program, the John R. Justice Student Loan Repayment Program helps public defenders and prosecutors in Iowa repay their loans. In exchange, award recipients must agree to remain in their positions for at least three years. Only federal student loans are eligible for this program.

Rural Iowa Veterinarian Loan Repayment Program

To address a critical shortage of veterinarians in rural Iowa communities, the state created the Rural Iowa Veterinarian Loan Repayment Program. Individuals who practice in designated locations for at least four years can receive up to $60,000 in federal student loan repayment assistance. To qualify, individuals must be licensed (or in the process of becoming licensed) to practice veterinary medicine in Iowa.

Teach Iowa Scholar Program

Qualified teachers who teach in Iowa schools in designated shortage areas can get up to $4,000 a year in student loan repayment assistance through the Teach Iowa Scholar Program. Teachers can qualify for up to five years of assistance.

To qualify, teachers must meet the following requirements:

  • Teachers must have graduated from a teacher preparation program on or after Jan. 1, 2013, in the top 25% of their teacher preparation program.
  • Teachers must secure full-time employment in a designated shortage area at a school district, educational service agency, charter school or accredited nonpublic school recognized and approved by the Iowa Department of Education.
  • Teachers must have a valid Iowa teaching license.

Iowa federal student loan borrowers younger than 25 owe less than national average — and more comparisons

How to refinance Iowa student loans

Nearly 5% of Iowa student loan borrowers owe $100,000 or more. With high interest rates, borrowers with six-figure debt can pay thousands more than they originally borrowed, due to interest charges — which could make them excellent candidates for student loan refinancing.

By refinancing their student loans, creditworthy applicants may qualify for lower interest rates, helping them save money over the life of their repayment terms. They could also reduce their monthly payments and consolidate their federal and private student loans, simplifying repayment.

In Iowa, one lender that offers student loan refinancing is Iowa Student Loan. It has refinancing options for:

  • College graduates
  • Parents
  • Medical residents
  • Medical and dental professionals
  • Students currently in school

This lender offers fixed-interest refinancing loans and allows borrowers to apply with a cosigner to increase their chances of qualifying for a loan.

But before refinancing your loans, make sure you’ve considered both its advantages and drawbacks. For instance, when you refinance federal loans, you transfer them to a private lender and lose access to federal loan benefits, such as forbearance and eligibility for Public Service Loan Forgiveness.

While some refinancing lenders offer forbearance and deferment programs if you experience financial hardship, their programs may have shorter postponement terms and different eligibility requirements than federal programs.


  • U.S. Department of Education data as of June 30, 2020
  • Anonymized My LendingTree June 2020 credit reports
  • Federal Reserve Bank of New York Consumer Credit Panel/Equifax as of June 2020

Because the latter data is from 2015, researchers estimated the increase in student loan debt per borrower in the state using statewide data from anonymized credit reports.

Interested in refinancing student loans?

Here are the top 6 lenders of 2021!
LenderVariable APREligible Degrees 
1.89% – 5.99%1Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Splash

1.99% – 5.64%2Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Earnest

1.99% – 6.84%3Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit CommonBond

1.91% – 5.25%4Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Lendkey

2.25% – 6.53%5Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit SoFi

2.17% – 4.47%6Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit PenFed

Check out the testimonials and our in-depth reviews!
1 Important Disclosures for Splash Financial.

Splash Financial Disclosures

Terms and Conditions apply. Splash reserves the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. Rates and terms are also subject to change at any time without notice. Offers are subject to credit approval. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet applicable underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers. If approved, your actual rate will be within a range of rates and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, income and other factors. Refinancing or consolidating private and federal student loans may not be the right decision for everyone. Federal loans carry special benefits not available for loans made through Splash Financial, for example, public service loan forgiveness and economic hardship programs, fee waivers and rebates on the principal, which may not be accessible to you after you refinance. The rates displayed may include a 0.25% autopay discount.

The information you provide to us is an inquiry to determine whether we or our lenders can make a loan offer that meets your needs. If we or any of our lending partners has an available loan offer for you, you will be invited to submit a loan application to the lender for its review. We do not guarantee that you will receive any loan offers or that your loan application will be approved. Offers are subject to credit approval and are available only to U.S. citizens or permanent residents who meet applicable underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers will receive the lowest rates, which are available to the most qualified borrowers. Participating lenders, rates and terms are subject to change at any time without notice.

To check the rates and terms you qualify for, Splash Financial conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. However, if you choose a product and continue your application, the lender will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit pull and may affect your credit.

Splash Financial and our lending partners reserve the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen and meet our lending partner’s underwriting requirements. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers. This information is current as of Feburary 1, 2021.

2 Important Disclosures for Earnest.

Earnest Disclosures

To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.

Earnest fixed rate loan rates range from 2.98% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.49% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 1.99% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.34% APR (with Auto Pay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 1.82% and 5.50% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of October 26, 2020, and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.

Auto Pay discount: If you make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic, monthly deduction from a savings or checking account, your rate will be reduced by one quarter of one percent (0.25%) for so long as you continue to make automatic, electronic monthly payments. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance.

The information provided on this page is updated as of 10/26/2020. Earnest reserves the right to change, pause, or terminate product offerings at any time without notice. Earnest loans are originated by Earnest Operations LLC. California Finance Lender License 6054788. NMLS # 1204917. Earnest Operations LLC is located at 302 2nd Street, Suite 401N, San Francisco, CA 94107. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit, email us at [email protected], or call 888-601-2801 for more information on our student loan refinance product.

© 2020 Earnest LLC. All rights reserved. Earnest LLC and its subsidiaries, including Earnest Operations LLC, are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.

3 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.

CommonBond Disclosures

Offered terms are subject to change and state law restriction. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900), NMLS Consumer Access. If you are approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your credit profile, your application, the loan term selected and will be within the ranges of rates shown. ‍All Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) displayed assume borrowers enroll in auto pay and account for the 0.25% reduction in interest rate. All variable rates are based on a 1-month LIBOR assumption of 0.15% effective Jan 1, 2021 and may increase after consummation.

4 Important Disclosures for LendKey.

LendKey Disclosures

Refinancing via is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it  endorse,  any educational institution.

Subject to floor rate and may require the automatic payments be made from a checking or savings account with the lender. The rate reduction will be removed and the rate will be increased by 0.25% upon any cancellation or failed collection attempt of the automatic payment and will be suspended during any period of deferment or forbearance. As a result, during the forbearance or suspension period, and/or if the automatic payment is canceled, any increase will take the form of higher payments. The lowest advertised variable APR is only available for loan terms of  5 years and is reserved for applicants with FICO scores of at least 810.

As of 02/17/2021 student loan refinancing rates range from 1.91% APR – 5.25% Variable APR with AutoPay and 2.95% APR – 7.63% Fixed APR with AutoPay.

5 Important Disclosures for SoFi.

SoFi Disclosures

  1. Student loan Refinance: 1. Fixed rates from 2.99% APR to 6.99% APR (with AutoPay). Variable rates from 2.25% APR to 6.53% APR (with AutoPay). Interest rates on variable rate loans are capped at either 8.95% or 9.95% depending on term of loan. See APR examples and terms. Lowest variable rate of 2.25% APR assumes current 1 month LIBOR rate of 0.12% plus 2.38% margin minus 0.25% ACH discount. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. If approved for a loan, the fixed or variable interest rate offered will depend on your creditworthiness, and the term of the loan and other factors, and will be within the ranges of rates listed above. For the SoFi variable rate loan, the 1-month LIBOR index will adjust monthly and the loan payment will be re-amortized and may change monthly. APRs for variable rate loans may increase after origination if the LIBOR index increases. See eligibility details. The SoFi 0.25% AutoPay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account. The discount will not reduce the monthly payment; instead, the interest savings are applied to the principal loan balance, which may help pay the loan down faster. Enrolling in autopay is not required to receive a loan from SoFi. *To check the rates and terms you qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit inquiry. Unlike hard credit inquiries, soft credit inquiries (or soft credit pulls) do not impact your credit score.Terms and Conditions Apply. SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE.

6 Important Disclosures for PenFed.

PenFed Disclosures

Annual Percentage Rate (APR) is the cost of credit calculating the interest rate, loan amount, repayment term and the timing of payments. Fixed Rates range from 2.99%-5.15% APR and Variable Rates range from 2.17%-4.47% APR. Both Fixed and Variable Rates will vary based on application terms, level of degree and presence of a co-signer. These rates are subject to additional terms and conditions and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. For Variable Rate student loans, the rate will never exceed 9.00% for 5 year and 8 year loans and 10.00% for 12 and 15 years loans (the maximum allowable for this loan). Minimum variable rate will be 2.00%. These rates are subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change.