Iowa public universities report higher enrollment numbers in fall 2023

By: - September 7, 2023 4:46 pm

Iowa's regent universities saw a bump in enrollment this fall, as reported in 10th-day metrics. (Photo illustration using images courtesy of the Iowa Board of Regents, Iowa State University, University of Iowa and University of Northern Iowa)

Each of Iowa’s three public universities welcomed larger student bodies this fall, according to 10th-day metrics.

Iowa State University, University of Northern Iowa and the University of Iowa released information on the class of 2027 Thursday, touting high-achieving students who have moved to campus from all over the globe.


Iowa State University

Iowa State University saw its largest freshman class enroll this fall since 2018, 5,859 students in total. It was a 2% increase over last year, according to a news release.

Its average grade-point average is also among the university’s best at 3.73.

The university’s total fall enrollment is 30,177 — the largest out of the regent universities. The student body increased by 208 from last year, and includes 25,332 undergraduate students, 4,210 graduate students and 635 veterinary medicine students. They’ve come from every Iowa county, every U.S. state and 117 countries.

More than half of ISU students are from Iowa, and around 9% are international students.

University of Iowa 

The University of Iowa enrolled 5,064 freshmen this fall, the fourth-largest in its history. The UI is the only regent university to see a drop in enrollment of first-year students — 5,178 freshmen started their academic journey at the university last fall.

However, the incoming class’s average 3.83 grade-point average tops previous records.

Just over half the class hails from Iowa, spread across 94 counties. Students came from 45 U.S. states and 44 countries to attend the UI, with around 1% of incoming freshmen are international students.

About 20% of those starting this fall at the UI are first-generation college students, and around one-fifth are African American, American Indian, Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander, Asian, Hispanic or Latino, or two or more ethnicities.

In total, 22,130 undergraduate students attend the UI.

“We’re so excited these newest Hawkeyes are here and settling in for a great year,” said UI President Barbara J. Wilson in a news release. “What they’ll find on campus are the three C’s: Comprehensive excellence across disciplines — from nonfiction writing, to neuroscience, to nursing; Creativity — we have enormously creative faculty and staff who will help students find their own inspiration to solve problems; and Community — this is a place where everyone loves and supports the University of Iowa.”

University of Northern Iowa

The University of Northern Iowa almost doubled its cohort of new graduate students in 2023, enrolling 632 at a 42% increase over 2022 and the largest starting graduate population since 2020.

UNI also saw an 8% increase in freshmen this year, totaling 1,552 students. Around 90% of UNI’s freshmen are Iowans.

Joining freshmen as new students at UNI are 857 transfer students, the university’s highest number of transfers since 2017 and a 12% increase from 2022. Almost three-quarters of 2023 transfer students come from one of Iowa’s community colleges.

Just over 9,000 students are attending UNI this fall,  the largest year-to-year increase in more than a decade. In 2022, 8,949 students attended UNI.

UNI students have moved from every Iowa county, 45 U.S. states and 53 countries.

“We are grateful to all of these students and families for selecting UNI as their college home,” said UNI President Mark Nook in a news release. “Our faculty and staff are staunchly committed to student support and success. As UNI’s degree programs continue to respond to the needs of Iowa’s workforce in regards to health, nursing, engineering and other in-demand areas, our education and business programs are among many areas of study that remain vital to our state, its students and Iowa’s economy. We are excited about UNI’s positive trajectory for these and many more reasons.”


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Brooklyn Draisey
Brooklyn Draisey

Brooklyn Draisey is a Report for America corps member covering higher education. She previously worked for the Quad-City Times and The Gazette covering topics ranging from business to culture.