Iowa Student Loans, Scholarships and Grants

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Refinancing APRs starting at 1.89%. Checking your rates won’t affect your score.

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The average student loan debt in Iowa is among the highest in the country at $30,045, according to The Institute for College Access & Success (TICAS). That’s no small amount, and if you want to avoid borrowing Iowa student loans as much as possible, then scholarships and grants will be key.

So if you’re headed to one of the state’s 18 public colleges or 53 private ones, have a look at:

Avoiding student loans in Iowa with scholarships and grants

There’s an ocean of scholarship and grant awards out there — in fact, there are many dedicated search tools just to find these opportunities. You’ll want to apply to as many as you can, prioritizing those you see as best matching your own personal profile and situation.

A good start is looking at some of those scholarships and grants special to Iowa. Here are six to consider:

1. All Iowa Opportunity Scholarship (AIOS)
2. Future Ready Iowa Last-Dollar Scholarship
3. Iowa National Guard Service Scholarship
4. Iowa Tuition Grant
5. Iowa Vocational-Technical Tuition Grant
6. Kibbie Grant (Iowa Skilled Workforce Shortage Tuition Grant)

All Iowa Opportunity Scholarship (AIOS)

The All Iowa Opportunity Scholarship is available to first-time freshmen Iowa students who attend an eligible in-state college or university.

Applicants must have been an Iowa high school graduate or received a diploma equivalent within the last two years. Students also submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), and have an expected family contribution (EFC) of $0 to $9,288.

Recipients for the 2020-2021 school year received a scholarship award up to $4,644. The award for this scholarship, however, changes each year. Recipients can renew their scholarship for up to eight full-time (or 16 part-time) semesters if they remain continuously enrolled in college, and meet certain requirements.

Future Ready Iowa Last-Dollar Scholarship

New Iowa high school graduates or Iowa “adult learners” (age 20 or older) who are interested in pursuing a high-demand career in the state may apply for the Future Ready Iowa Last-Dollar Scholarship.

Scholarship funds are meant to fund the gap between other federal and state scholarships or grant aid, minus the cost of attendance and fees. This is the award amount that the Future Ready Iowa Last-Dollar Scholarship provides.

Students must be working toward a postsecondary certificate, diploma, or associate degree from the scholarship’s list of eligible programs. Since the Iowa Last-Dollar Scholarship is meant to supplement remaining financial need after federal- and state-based aid, students are required to fill out a FAFSA to apply. Students must complete ongoing requirements to maintain eligibility, like attending student orientations, participating in academic advising and more.

Iowa National Guard Service Scholarship

Members of the Iowa National Guard who are interested in attending an in-state college or university can apply for the Iowa National Guard Service Scholarship. For the 2020-2021 school year, awards were offered up to 100% of the average tuition rate for Iowa Regent Universities which was $9,274.

To be eligible, students must be an Iowa resident and member of the Iowa Army or Air National Guard. Completion of Guard training and satisfactory performance on duty is also required. Students working toward a certificate or an undergraduate degree are welcome to apply, but must attend an eligible Iowa school and must meet ongoing academic requirements.

Those who already have a bachelor’s degree aren’t eligible for the Iowa National Guard Service Scholarship.

Iowa Tuition Grant

The Iowa Tuition Grant offers a maximum award up to the average Regent tuition and fees rate. It’s available to undergraduate students with Iowa resident status who are attending an eligible Iowa private college or university.

Students attending school full-time can receive awards for up to four years; part-time students might be eligible for adjusted amounts. The total available award varies, based on the state budget.

Iowa Vocational-Technical Tuition Grant

The Iowa Vocational-Technical Tuition Grant awards up to $900 per year to Iowa residents. To be eligible for this grant, students must be enrolled in a career or technical program at an Iowa community college.

Full-time students can receive this award for up to two years toward their program while students studying part-time might receive an adjusted award.

Kibbie Grant (Iowa Skilled Workforce Shortage Tuition Grant)

The Kibbie Grant, also called the Iowa Skilled Workforce Shortage Tuition Grant, is a need-based grant that’s available to students attending an Iowa community college. In addition to being an Iowa resident, students must be actively enrolled in a minimum of three credit hours in a grant-approved program.

The maximum award is worth half of the average tuition and fees at average Iowa community colleges. This award is available to full-time recipients for up to two years, if they continue meeting grant requirements. Part-time students can also apply, however, awards amounts will be prorated.

Federal student loans in Iowa

If you’ve exhausted your scholarship and grant search, but still need additional funding to cover the cost of school, a federal loan might be the next-best option. Federal student loans offer fixed interest rates, flexible repayment plan options, and might qualify for student loan forgiveness. Iowa students who are interested in applying must submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

The types of federal student loans available are:

  • Direct subsidized. Undergraduate students from low-income households can qualify for subsidized federal loans. With these loans, the government pays the interest while you’re in school and during other periods.
  • Direct unsubsidized. For undergraduate, graduate and professional degree students who don’t meet the need-based criteria for subsidized loans, the federal government also offers unsubsidized loans. Anyone can get unsubsidized federal loans, regardless of income or credit history.
  • Direct PLUS loans. PLUS loans are another type of unsubsidized loan that’s reserved for graduate or professional degree students, or parents who want to borrow a federal loan for their child’s education.

Regardless of the type of federal student loan, each has its own annual and lifetime borrowing limits. Although federal student loans might not cover all of your college costs, they offer a few valuable benefits compared to private student loans.

Additional federal student loan benefits

Although federal student loan rates adjust between school years, once you take out a federal loan your interest rate is locked in. Another benefit of federal student loans is that they might be eligible for loan forgiveness, if you work at an eligible employer, meet the required years of service, along with other criteria.

When you accept a federal loan, it’s automatically put on a standard 10-year repayment plan. But if you suddenly lose your job and are unable to make your usual monthly payments, you can request an income-based repayment plan so your monthly payments are more manageable.

Private student loans in Iowa

Private student loans are offered by traditional banks, credit unions and online banks. Iowa-based credit unions, like Advantage Credit Union and Community Choice Credit Union, also participate in state-focused student loan programs that specifically serve Iowa students and their families. Each lender has its own underwriting criteria and loan terms.

Unlike federal loans, getting approved for private Iowa student loans depends on your credit history and private loans don’t always offer federal protections, like deferment or forbearance — and none are eligible for student loan forgiveness.

If you’re considering this option, it’s important to compare private student loan details, like repayment terms, interest rates, fees, hardship options and customer satisfaction ratings. You can also start with a federal student loan and refinance to private Iowa student loans, if you’re approved.

Iowa Student Loan

Iowa Student Loan is a nonprofit organization that offers access to competitive private student loans. Due to its 501(c)(3) nonprofit status, it uses its tax-exempt Private Activity Bonds as “Qualified Student Loan Bonds” (QSLBs). These QSLBs are then used to fund private student loans for Iowa students.

The nonprofit offers three types of private student loan programs: College Family Loan, No-Cosigner Loan for Graduates and the Partnership Loan.

Iowa Student Loan Offerings (as of Aug. 24, 2020)
College Family LoanNo-Cosigner Loan for GraduatesPartnership Loan
BorrowerParents and family members of a studentFull-time graduate studentsUndergraduate and graduate students
APRsFixed: 4.60%-6.85% APRFixed: 5.30%-5.50% APRVariable: 4.10%-6.03% APR
Fixed: 4.60%-6.85% APR
Loan amountUp to the cost of attendance, minus existing Iowa student aidUp to the cost of attendance, minus existing Iowa student aidUp to the cost of attendance, minus existing Iowa student aid
Loan terms10-15 years10-15 years
CosignerOptionalN/AOften required; based on applicant’s credit history
Cosigner releaseNoN/AYes
Minimum credit score670670670

In-state vs. out-of-state tuition in Iowa

Whether you’re considered an in-state student or an out-of-state student will greatly impact your Iowa school tuition costs.

University of Iowa

  • On-campus tuition and fees (in state): $9,830
  • On-campus tuition and fees (out of state): $31,793

Des Moines Area Community College

  • Tuition and fees (in state): $170 per credit hour
  • Tuition and fees (out of state): $340 per credit hour

University of Northern Iowa

  • Tuition and fees (in state): $18,098*
  • Tuition and fees (out of state): $28,640*

* Excludes College of Business Administration Juniors and Seniors

Iowa State University

  • Tuition and fees (in state): $9,320
  • Tuition and fees (out of state): $24,508

Before borrowing Iowa student loans, check for school-specific scholarships that your top schools might offer. Every scholarship or grant amount — no matter how small — counts toward making your degree more affordable.

Miranda Marquit contributed to this report.

Interested in refinancing student loans?

Here are the top 6 lenders of 2021!
LenderVariable APREligible Degrees 
1.89% – 6.66%1Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Splash

1.99% – 5.64%2Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Earnest

1.89% – 5.90%3Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Laurel Road

2.25% – 6.43%4Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit SoFi

1.99% – 8.56%5Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Lendkey

2.39% – 6.01%Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Elfi

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 October 1, 2020.

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 Laurel Road.

Laurel Road Disclosures

All credit products are subject to credit approval.

Laurel Road began originating student loans in 2013 and has since helped thousands of professionals with undergraduate and postgraduate degrees consolidate and refinance more than $4 billion in federal and private school loans. Laurel Road also offers a suite of online graduate school loan products and personal loans that help simplify lending through customized technology and personalized service. In April 2019, Laurel Road was acquired by KeyBank, one of the nation’s largest bank-based financial services companies. Laurel Road is a brand of KeyBank National Association offering online lending products in all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. All loans are provided by KeyBank National Association, a nationally chartered bank. Member FDIC. For more information, visit

As used throughout these Terms & Conditions, the term “Lender” refers to KeyBank National Association and its affiliates, agents, guaranty insurers, investors, assigns, and successors in interest.

  1. Checking your rate with Laurel Road only requires a soft credit pull, which will not affect your credit score. To proceed with an application, a hard credit pull will be required, which may affect your credit score.
  2. Savings vary based on rate and term of your existing and refinanced loan(s). Refinancing to a longer term may lower your monthly payments, but may also increase the total interest paid over the life of the loan. Refinancing to a shorter term may increase your monthly payments, but may lower the total interest paid over the life of the loan. Review your loan documentation for total cost of your refinanced loan.
  3. After loan disbursement, if a borrower documents a qualifying economic hardship, we may agree in our discretion to allow for full or partial forbearance of payments for one or more 3-month time periods (not to exceed 12 months in the aggregate during the term of your loan), provided that we receive acceptable documentation (including updating documentation) of the nature and expected duration of the borrower’s economic hardship. During any period of forbearance interest will continue to accrue. At the end of the forbearance period, any unpaid accrued interest will be capitalized and be added to the remaining principle amount of the loan.
  4. Automatic Payment (“AutoPay”) Discount: if the borrower chooses to make monthly payments automatically from a bank account, the interest rate will decrease by 0.25% and will increase back if the borrower stops making (or we stop accepting) monthly payments automatically from the borrower’s bank account. The 0.25% AutoPay discount will not reduce the monthly payment; instead, the discount is applied to the principal to help pay the loan down faster.

Assumptions: Repayment examples above assume a loan amount of $10,000 with repayment beginning immediately following disbursement. Repayment examples do not include the 0.25% AutoPay Discount.

Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): This term represents the actual cost of financing to the borrower over the life of the loan expressed as a yearly rate.

Interest Rate: A simple annual rate that is applied to an unpaid balance.

Variable Rates: The current index for variable rate loans is derived from the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) and changes in the LIBOR index may cause your monthly payment to increase. Borrowers who take out a term of 5, 7, or 10 years will have a maximum interest rate of 9%, those who take out a 15 or 20-year variable loan will have a maximum interest rate of 10%.


This information is current as of January 4, 2021. Information and rates are subject to change without notice.

4 Important Disclosures for SoFi.

SoFi Disclosures

  1. Student loan Refinance: Fixed rates from 2.99% APR to 6.88% APR (with AutoPay). Variable rates from 2.25% APR to 6.43% 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 0.15% plus 2.35% 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. *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. Soft credit inquiries allow SoFi to show you what rates and terms SoFi can offer you up front. After seeing your rates, if you choose a product and continue your application, we will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit inquiry. Hard credit inquiries (or hard credit pulls) are required for SoFi to be able to issue you a loan. In addition to requiring your explicit permission, these credit pulls may impact your credit score. Terms and Conditions Apply. SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE. 

5 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 12/07/2020 student loan refinancing rates range from 1.99% to 8.56% Variable APR with AutoPay and 2.95% to 8.77% Fixed APR with AutoPay.