Least educated counties in Iowa

Written by:
May 14, 2022
Scott Romine // Wikimedia Commons

Least educated counties in Iowa

The value of traditional education can vary widely across the country. While a college degree has long been viewed as a critical step toward the American dream, growing costs have led many students to reconsider the return-on-investment of higher education. Meanwhile, local economies and individual circumstances can push others toward learning a trade or entering the workforce early.

These considerations aside, national statistics show a clear difference in earnings as they relate to educational attainment, as college graduates typically earn 65% more than those with only a high school degree.

To help understand areas with the lowest educational attainment, Stacker compiled a list of the least educated counties in Iowa using data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Counties are ranked by the lowest percent of the population 25 years and over that has a Bachelor’s degree or higher. Ties are broken by the highest percent with less than high school diploma.

Keep read on for a look at the least-educated counties in Iowa.

1 / 50
Jim Roberts // Wikimedia Commons

#50. Floyd County

- 19.8% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 10% ($25,852 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 35.4% ($31,776)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 34.9% ($35,236)
- Bachelor's degree: 15.5% ($45,605)
- Graduate or professional degree: 4.3% ($60,307)

2 / 50
Scott A. Miller // Wikimedia Commons

#49. Buena Vista County

- 19.7% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 21.5% ($30,562 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 30.3% ($31,736)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 28.4% ($32,849)
- Bachelor's degree: 13.5% ($44,054)
- Graduate or professional degree: 6.3% ($57,538)

3 / 50
Billwhittaker // Wikimedia Commons

#48. Henry County

- 19.6% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 7.4% ($22,208 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 36% ($31,774)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 36.9% ($33,323)
- Bachelor's degree: 14.5% ($45,000)
- Graduate or professional degree: 5.2% ($67,717)

4 / 50
Kevin Schuchmann // Wikimedia Commons

#47. Jones County

- 19.5% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 7.7% ($17,318 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 39.6% ($31,639)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 33.3% ($38,219)
- Bachelor's degree: 14.1% ($50,893)
- Graduate or professional degree: 5.5% ($52,778)

5 / 50
Scott Romine // Wikimedia Commons

#46. Harrison County

- 19.5% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 8.4% ($24,229 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 37.2% ($37,530)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 34.9% ($40,752)
- Bachelor's degree: 14.2% ($52,500)
- Graduate or professional degree: 5.3% ($70,000)

6 / 50
Jim Roberts // Wikimedia Commons

#45. Davis County

- 19.5% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 16.9% ($50,504 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 32.5% ($32,261)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 31.1% ($36,519)
- Bachelor's degree: 14.9% ($51,016)
- Graduate or professional degree: 4.6% ($73,083)

7 / 50
Jon Roanhaus // Wikimedia Commons

#44. Jackson County

- 19.2% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 7.4% ($31,296 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 42% ($31,698)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 31.4% ($40,341)
- Bachelor's degree: 13.2% ($50,000)
- Graduate or professional degree: 6% ($62,713)

8 / 50
Jon Roanhaus // Wikimedia Commons

#43. Mitchell County

- 19% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 8.3% ($29,630 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 38.4% ($38,795)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 34.3% ($32,744)
- Bachelor's degree: 13.6% ($50,242)
- Graduate or professional degree: 5.5% ($54,413)

9 / 50
Ammodramus // Wikimedia Commons

#42. Fremont County

- 18.9% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 7.9% ($27,039 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 33.6% ($37,111)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 39.7% ($34,706)
- Bachelor's degree: 12.7% ($53,864)
- Graduate or professional degree: 6.1% ($51,346)

10 / 50
en:User:Cburnett // Wikimedia Commons

#41. Jasper County

- 18.8% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 6.1% ($30,153 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 41.4% ($34,713)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 33.8% ($35,743)
- Bachelor's degree: 13.6% ($51,234)
- Graduate or professional degree: 5.2% ($64,784)

11 / 50
cwwycoff1 // Wikimedia Commons

#40. Iowa County

- 18.8% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 6.2% ($35,197 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 37.1% ($35,392)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 37.8% ($41,408)
- Bachelor's degree: 14.4% ($53,378)
- Graduate or professional degree: 4.5% ($67,984)

12 / 50
Scott Romine // Wikimedia Commons

#39. O'Brien County

- 18.8% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 7.8% ($27,228 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 39.9% ($30,713)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 33.4% ($37,089)
- Bachelor's degree: 14.1% ($50,379)
- Graduate or professional degree: 4.7% ($75,750)

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Phinn // Wikimedia Commons

#38. Emmet County

- 18.8% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 9.3% ($25,507 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 32.8% ($33,603)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 39.1% ($35,369)
- Bachelor's degree: 14.1% ($42,639)
- Graduate or professional degree: 4.7% ($66,932)

14 / 50
en:User:Cburnett // Wikimedia Commons

#37. Wapello County

- 18.8% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 11.9% ($30,349 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 34.9% ($32,258)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 34.3% ($34,040)
- Bachelor's degree: 11.5% ($42,165)
- Graduate or professional degree: 7.4% ($66,420)

15 / 50
Daniel Hartwig // Wikimedia Commons

#36. Marshall County

- 18.8% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 16.1% ($31,699 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 34.2% ($37,077)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 30.8% ($38,859)
- Bachelor's degree: 13.9% ($48,983)
- Graduate or professional degree: 4.9% ($74,392)

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Nst101 // Wikimedia Commons

#35. Calhoun County

- 18.7% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 6.2% ($26,406 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 38% ($24,205)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 37.2% ($33,992)
- Bachelor's degree: 12.3% ($42,563)
- Graduate or professional degree: 6.3% ($55,875)

17 / 50
Jason McLaren // Wikimedia Commons

#34. Greene County

- 18.7% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 6.6% ($13,750 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 39.7% ($27,575)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 35.1% ($40,996)
- Bachelor's degree: 12.9% ($47,695)
- Graduate or professional degree: 5.7% ($52,981)

18 / 50
Scott Romine // Wikimedia Commons

#33. Ida County

- 18.6% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 6.7% ($30,865 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 38.8% ($33,214)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 35.8% ($36,953)
- Bachelor's degree: 14.5% ($48,750)
- Graduate or professional degree: 4.1% ($73,750)

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C. A. Tucker // Wikimedia Commons

#32. Adair County

- 18.5% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 5.8% ($24,784 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 40.5% ($36,076)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 35.2% ($39,142)
- Bachelor's degree: 14.3% ($47,153)
- Graduate or professional degree: 4.2% ($51,050)

20 / 50
Judd Furlong // Wikimedia Commons

#31. Montgomery County

- 18.5% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 9.6% ($22,727 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 35.2% ($31,958)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 36.8% ($31,358)
- Bachelor's degree: 14% ($44,496)
- Graduate or professional degree: 4.5% ($48,750)

21 / 50
en:User:Cburnett // Wikimedia Commons

#30. Keokuk County

- 18.3% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 7.1% ($25,000 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 40.4% ($31,510)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 34.2% ($40,503)
- Bachelor's degree: 12.6% ($38,889)
- Graduate or professional degree: 5.7% ($58,229)

22 / 50
Woodard // Wikimedia Commons

#29. Fayette County

- 18.3% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 8.3% ($29,792 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 39.6% ($29,879)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 33.8% ($31,683)
- Bachelor's degree: 12.5% ($37,471)
- Graduate or professional degree: 5.7% ($57,321)

23 / 50
Jon Roanhaus // Wikimedia Commons

#28. Franklin County

- 18% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 8.9% ($31,875 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 35.9% ($32,425)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 37.2% ($35,374)
- Bachelor's degree: 13.9% ($46,488)
- Graduate or professional degree: 4.1% ($51,719)

24 / 50
Gvetterick // Wikimedia Commons

#27. Union County

- 18% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 9.7% ($30,030 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 35.5% ($30,568)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 36.8% ($32,610)
- Bachelor's degree: 12.1% ($49,559)
- Graduate or professional degree: 5.9% ($51,563)

25 / 50
Richc80 // Wikimedia Commons

#26. Clinton County

- 17.9% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 9.1% ($30,619 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 38.8% ($33,078)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 34.2% ($36,016)
- Bachelor's degree: 12.4% ($43,125)
- Graduate or professional degree: 5.5% ($63,409)

26 / 50
Coasterlover1994 // Wikimedia Commons

#25. Osceola County

- 17.9% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 11.6% ($32,212 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 36.6% ($32,398)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 34% ($34,554)
- Bachelor's degree: 13.2% ($46,125)
- Graduate or professional degree: 4.6% ($52,208)

27 / 50
Idawriter // Wikimedia Commons

#24. Allamakee County

- 17.8% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 11.8% ($29,458 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 39.4% ($31,960)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 31.1% ($35,189)
- Bachelor's degree: 13% ($42,672)
- Graduate or professional degree: 4.7% ($57,868)

28 / 50
Jsayre64 // Wikimedia Commons

#23. Clayton County

- 17.7% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 10.1% ($20,682 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 43.2% ($29,964)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 29.1% ($36,720)
- Bachelor's degree: 13.7% ($38,563)
- Graduate or professional degree: 4% ($59,375)

29 / 50
Alejandro Pulido // Wikimedia Commons

#22. Kossuth County

- 17.5% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 6% ($27,950 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 37.4% ($32,649)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 39% ($38,417)
- Bachelor's degree: 13.7% ($44,408)
- Graduate or professional degree: 3.8% ($52,381)

30 / 50
Jonathunder // Wikimedia Commons

#21. Worth County

- 17.5% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 6.6% ($27,727 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 36.4% ($35,133)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 39.4% ($37,539)
- Bachelor's degree: 12.9% ($52,014)
- Graduate or professional degree: 4.6% ($74,000)

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en:User:Cburnett // Wikimedia Commons

#20. Monroe County

- 17.4% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 12.3% ($33,902 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 39.1% ($38,033)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 31.2% ($41,442)
- Bachelor's degree: 14.7% ($47,413)
- Graduate or professional degree: 2.6%

32 / 50
Billwhittaker // Wikimedia Commons

#19. Butler County

- 17.3% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 7.5% ($24,000 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 38% ($34,787)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 37.3% ($36,264)
- Bachelor's degree: 13.3% ($49,761)
- Graduate or professional degree: 4% ($54,375)

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Bobak Ha'Eri // Wikimedia Commons

#18. Chickasaw County

- 17.2% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 7.1% ($29,792 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 43.6% ($38,720)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 32% ($39,446)
- Bachelor's degree: 12.8% ($42,052)
- Graduate or professional degree: 4.4% ($57,688)

34 / 50
Ann Sullivan-Larson // Wikimedia Commons

#17. Wright County

- 17.2% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 7.6% ($39,545 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 36.9% ($32,175)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 38.3% ($35,807)
- Bachelor's degree: 13.2% ($49,444)
- Graduate or professional degree: 4% ($52,763)

35 / 50
Nst101 // Wikimedia Commons

#16. Audubon County

- 17.1% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 10.5% ($25,263 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 37.1% ($31,896)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 35.3% ($31,151)
- Bachelor's degree: 12% ($37,143)
- Graduate or professional degree: 5.1% ($44,063)

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en:User:Cburnett // Wikimedia Commons

#15. Lucas County

- 17% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 7.9% ($26,932 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 41.3% ($34,295)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 33.8% ($37,786)
- Bachelor's degree: 13.5% ($49,063)
- Graduate or professional degree: 3.5% ($86,875)

37 / 50
Kevin Schuchmann // Wikimedia Commons

#14. Delaware County

- 16.6% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 8.3% ($36,250 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 42.8% ($36,097)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 32.3% ($38,550)
- Bachelor's degree: 11.8% ($45,662)
- Graduate or professional degree: 4.8% ($57,619)

38 / 50
Robert Thall // Wikimedia Commons

#13. Lee County

- 16.4% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 7.1% ($20,000 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 40.8% ($30,568)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 35.7% ($35,621)
- Bachelor's degree: 11.9% ($45,668)
- Graduate or professional degree: 4.5% ($66,667)

39 / 50
Jim Roberts // Wikimedia Commons

#12. Appanoose County

- 16.3% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 9.8% ($27,750 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 36.5% ($26,927)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 37.3% ($32,873)
- Bachelor's degree: 11.5% ($43,097)
- Graduate or professional degree: 4.8% ($41,912)

40 / 50
Jason McLaren // Wikimedia Commons

#11. Clarke County

- 16% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 12.3% ($23,681 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 38.9% ($30,183)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 33% ($40,489)
- Bachelor's degree: 11.3% ($46,042)
- Graduate or professional degree: 4.7% ($80,044)

41 / 50
Bill Whittaker // Wikimedia Commons

#10. Tama County

- 15.8% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 8.7% ($28,643 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 40% ($33,782)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 35.5% ($32,762)
- Bachelor's degree: 11.7% ($46,386)
- Graduate or professional degree: 4.1% ($58,068)

42 / 50
Jatakuck // Wikimedia Commons

#9. Howard County

- 15.8% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 9.1% ($37,292 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 40% ($34,128)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 35.1% ($34,442)
- Bachelor's degree: 11.6% ($48,239)
- Graduate or professional degree: 4.3% ($54,479)

43 / 50
Jason McLaren // Wikimedia Commons

#8. Adams County

- 15.6% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 6.3% ($20,000 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 39.1% ($32,604)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 39.1% ($38,947)
- Bachelor's degree: 11.9% ($32,292)
- Graduate or professional degree: 3.6% ($60,938)

44 / 50
JERRYE AND ROY KLOTZ MD // Wikimedia Commons

#7. Monona County

- 15.3% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 7.7% ($25,000 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 38.3% ($29,324)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 38.7% ($35,171)
- Bachelor's degree: 10.8% ($47,269)
- Graduate or professional degree: 4.5% ($60,417)

45 / 50
Pettingills // Wikimedia Commons

#6. Pocahontas County

- 15% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 7.8% ($26,250 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 39.4% ($32,091)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 37.8% ($34,543)
- Bachelor's degree: 11.9% ($42,071)
- Graduate or professional degree: 3.1% ($64,750)

46 / 50
USFWSmidwest // Wikimedia Commons

#5. Louisa County

- 14.9% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 15.9% ($32,113 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 37.7% ($35,833)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 31.6% ($38,361)
- Bachelor's degree: 10.7% ($51,154)
- Graduate or professional degree: 4.1% ($59,632)

47 / 50
Jared Winkler // Wikimedia Commons

#4. Taylor County

- 14.5% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 9.8% ($31,531 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 38.5% ($31,591)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 37.3% ($34,313)
- Bachelor's degree: 11.1% ($48,250)
- Graduate or professional degree: 3.4% ($52,625)

48 / 50
Sector001 // Wikimedia Commons

#3. Van Buren County

- 14.4% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 10.8% ($31,793 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 38.9% ($31,535)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 35.8% ($29,704)
- Bachelor's degree: 9.2% ($38,750)
- Graduate or professional degree: 5.2% ($29,514)

49 / 50
Joe Elliott // Wikimedia Commons

#2. Crawford County

- 14.3% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 19.9% ($36,087 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 37.4% ($32,917)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 28.6% ($38,014)
- Bachelor's degree: 10.6% ($38,718)
- Graduate or professional degree: 3.6% ($63,125)

50 / 50
Scott Romine // Wikimedia Commons

#1. Wayne County

- 12.7% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 12.1% ($35,750 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 44.4% ($30,960)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 30.8% ($30,721)
- Bachelor's degree: 8.8% ($48,241)
- Graduate or professional degree: 3.9% ($67,188)

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