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Iowa Colleges Import Students, Export Graduates

Each year more students come to Iowa to attend college than the number of Iowa high school graduates who leave the state for college, making Iowa among the top importers of undergraduates nationwide. But, like corn and hogs, education becomes an Iowa export when the students leave for jobs in other states. About 25,200, or 28 percent of the 89,844 undergraduates attending Iowa's four-year public and private colleges and universities came from outside Iowa in the 2004-05 school year. While there has been no statewide study on revenue generated by out-of-state college students, the students clearly provide a significant boost to state and local economies. A 2000 study by the University of Iowa's INSTITUTE FOR ECONOMIC RESEARCH found that out-of-state students contributed $74 million of the total $219 million U of I students spent on books, utilities, rent and personal items during the academic year. While Iowa ranks high in attracting college students to the state, it falls near the bottom of states in retaining young people after they graduate.

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