Despite distance, nonresident students call Iowa State home


Design by Maria Albers

While the majority of Iowa State’s students come from the state of Iowa, thousands of students come from other states around the U.S.

Jake Webster

There are more than 26,000 American undergraduate students at Iowa State.

Of the undergraduate population, 16,865 are from Iowa, the single most of any state, which is generally the case for public universities. Neither Wyoming nor West Virginia have any of their residents represented in the undergraduate population, the only two states with that distinction.

More than 35 percent of the American undergraduate student population at Iowa State come from states other than Iowa, with most coming from bordering states. Students from those states often cite lower costs and better programs than schools in their home states and not being too far from home as reasons for choosing Iowa State.

The average nonresident annual tuition for public colleges in the United States is $22,577, according to U.S. News & World Report. The nonresident tuition for most majors for two semesters at Iowa State is $23,230, according to the Office of the Registrar’s website.

According to, Iowa State was tied for 25th place for public universities with the highest proportion of out-of-state students in the United States.

The Office of the Registrar’s website says “[s]tudents come from every county in Iowa, every state in the country and from 115 countries,” though the figure on all 50 states combines graduate and undergraduate students.

Despite the comparative distance, some American students come from farther afield to come to Iowa State. More than 1,600 students come from non-bordering states.

Texas is the home state of the single largest group of nonresident students at Iowa State from non-bordering states, accounting for 15 percent of that population, or 258 students.

Tessa Juillard, sophomore in public relations, is from Texas and said she came to visit her brother at Iowa State and liked the university.

“I came in the fall like right now, and I liked it,” Juillard said. “I wanted to go far away from home — I wanted to be independent, and I got a scholarship too, so I was like ‘why not?’”

Iowa, on average, is colder than Texas. Juillard said she was expecting “a little warmer” weather, but said going through the colder temperatures will be easier this year after experiencing the record lows last year, when the university canceled classes on account of the weather for the first time in several years.

Juillard is from Montgomery County in the Houston area, and said it is a very Republican area. President Donald Trump received 73 percent of the vote in that county.

“Up here it’s a little bit more diverse, which is nice,” Juillard said.

Juillard said she would advise potential out-of-state students to come to Iowa State if they don’t mind being away from home, “but if they get homesick easily, then don’t.”

Midwesterners from non-bordering states come to Iowa State for their undergraduate education, too — just in lower numbers than those from bordering states. Kansas is the home state of 153 students.

Mia Neaderhiser, freshman in kinesiology and health, is from Overland Park, Kansas, a rapidly growing suburb of the Kansas City metropolitan area.

Neaderhiser said the academic programs and the dance team at Iowa State were big reasons why she picked it when narrowing down schools.

“[I liked] how open [the campus] was, and how nice everyone was,” Neaderhiser said. “And it was similar to K-State and that’s where all my family went; [it’s] just a bigger school and it’s out-of-state, too. I wanted to not go where all my high school friends were.”

Another big draw was the comparatively short distance — Neaderhiser said she also looked into attending Oklahoma State, which was five hours away compared to three-and-a-half drive to Iowa State.

“I was scared about making friends, but honestly, I’ve had a better experience than I think people that go here that know everyone already, because it forced me out of my comfort zone to meet people,” Neaderhiser said. “I like going out-of-state because of that mainly […] kind of being pushed to meet new people.”

Iowa ranks 15th on the list of coldest states, with Alaska taking first place. Kansas ranks 32nd, according

“It’s about 10 degrees colder here on average, but I don’t really feel it yet,” Neaderhiser said.

People who are scared of going out-of-state should consider distance, but not go too far away from home, Neaderhiser said.

“[People should] go far enough away where you feel you aren’t able to come every weekend, even if you’re feeling homesick,” Neaderhiser said.

Jakob Bruxvoort, junior in civil engineering, is from Fort Collins, Colorado, in the northern portion of the state.

Bruxvoort said he knows several other Coloradans who attend Iowa State, but when he came to the university he knew “zero” people.

“When I was visiting colleges […] my grandpa had done some graduate research, or like a postdoc or something here at Iowa State,” Bruxvoort said. “So he said, ‘hey you should check out this school.’ I honestly didn’t think much of it at first, because [it’s] the state school of Iowa, you know. I visited it, I really liked it; good engineering college — honestly a relatively cheap option.”

The cost of attendance at Colorado State University, located in Fort Collins, is $12,508, according to the university’s website.

Bruxvoort said he visited a couple of state schools in Colorado, but wasn’t “impressed” by any of them.

“If I wanted to do engineering […] there weren’t any cheap schools in Colorado that were good for engineering,” Bruxvoort said. “There’s Colorado School of Mines, but I’d be in debt for a while if I went there.”

Many students have an idea of what college is like that is different from what they actually find it to be when they get there.

Bruxvoort said he did not know what to expect at Iowa State before orientation.

“After orientation I think they do a good job of telling you what to expect to at […] choosing your adventure at Iowa State,” Bruxvoort said. “They do a good job of letting you know that Iowa State is going to be what you make of it.”