Fewer than 75 percent of medical and dental students at UI are Iowa residents, but most are

A claim from Iowa state representative Ann Meyer that 68 to 70 percent of medical students at the University of Iowa were residents was slightly off in the actual ratio of resident to non-resident students.


Kelsey Harrell, Managing Digital Editor

PolitiFact Iowa is a project of The Daily Iowan’s Ethics & Politics Initiative and PolitiFact to help you find the truth in politics.

Edited by Lyle Muller and Caleb McCullough 

If your time is short: 

  • Iowa state representative Ann Meyer R-Fort Dodge said a bill requiring 75 percent of University of Iowa medical and dental students be Iowa residents is not much different since these residents make up 68 to 70 percent of students in the colleges already.
  • We found that 57 to 66 percent of graduate and professional students in the college of medicine are residents, and above 87 percent of postgraduates were residents for the 2019-20 academic year, falling short of Meyer’s estimate.

A bill passed in the Iowa House of Representatives before the Legislature took a nearly three-month recess for COVID-19 would have required 75 percent of the University of Iowa’s graduate and postgraduate students in the Carver College of Medicine and the College of Dentistry be residents of the state or to have studied at an institution in state. 

House File 2383 — which aimed to keep physicians and dentists in Iowa after graduating — was introduced by the Human Resources Committee in February and debated on the House floor on Feb. 25. After a 54-44 vote approving the measure, the bill was sent to the Senate for consideration. But then, the Iowa Legislature shut down after reports of community spread of COVID-19 and, after going back to Des Moines June 3, the Legislature adjourned June 14 without the Senate taking up the bill.

The matter could be in play in next year’s legislative session if Senate leaders want to consider it. So, let’s take a look at it, and the problem its supporters say needs to be fixed — not having as many Iowa residents in the medical and dental colleges as the supporters would like to see.

Iowa state Rep. Ann Meyer R-Fort Dodge, the bill’s sponsor, said Feb. 25 on the House floor about the bill’s 75 percent in-state admissions requirement: “This is not out of line, this is 75 percent.” She continued: “I heard in subcommittee we’re already doing between 68 to 70 percent admissions, this is not that much difference.”

Although Meyer mentioned admissions in floor debate, she wrote in an email to the Daily Iowan that she was referring to the makeup of the student body in the medical and dental colleges being between 68 percent to 70 percent, which would include enrollment data, not just admissions. That’s a fine line but enrollments, which cover how many students are studying at the colleges, could differ from admissions if some students admitted decide against attending.

We found that while Meyer is correct about resident enrollment at the UI’s colleges of medicine and dentistry being below 75 percent, Iowans still comprise the majority of the colleges’ admissions and enrollment. However, the actual numbers are a bit lower than Meyers’ 68 percent to 70 percent estimate.

The UI Carver College of Medicine reported that 65.6 percent of professional students studying for careers as doctors in spring 2020 and 66 percent of students in fall 2019 were residents. Additionally,  57.9 percent of its graduate students working toward a master’s degree or Ph.D in a field such as biomedical science were Iowa residents, according to UI Office of the Registrar data. In spring 2020, 62.3 percent were residents. Enrollment data is recorded by semester to account for students who graduate at the end of the fall semester, transfer, or leave the UI for another reason.

The Daily Iowan collected data from the UI Office of the Registrar going back to 2010 to understand how the makeup of resident and non-resident students has changed over the years. Since the Office of the Registrar collects data for fall and spring, the average percentage for the year was used. 

The UI College of Dentistry reported that 40 percent of its 20 graduate students in the fall 2019 semester were residents and 36.8 percent of its 19 graduate students in the spring 2020 semester were Iowa residents. The dental college reported 69.5 percent of its professional students — those studying for a career in a specific field of dentistry usually required by law before working in a specific occupation — were Iowa residents In the 2019-20 academic year.

Among postgraduates — those working to complete an internship, residency, or fellowship training program — the percentages of Iowa residents were much higher: 87.7 percent in the College of Medicine in spring 2020 and 88.1 percent in fall 2019, according to the Office of the Registrar data

According to the UI’s profile for the 2019 entering class, 41 percent of the students earned their undergraduate degrees at an Iowa regent institution, 9 percent at other Iowa colleges, and 50 percent outside of Iowa. This year, 28 percent of Carver College of Medicine graduates are to take first-year postgraduate training positions in Iowa, with 32 of those 43 graduates taking positions at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, according to medical college data

The legislative bill would allow Iowa students to stay in state and pay in-state tuition for their medical and dental education, Meyer said during the February floor debate. 

“We know that when our kids start in Iowa, when they go to undergraduate school in Iowa, when they attend medical school in Iowa, when they attend their residency in Iowa, we know that they’re putting down roots and they’re going to stay in Iowa,” Meyer said. 

The Daily Iowan reached out to Human Resources Committee chair Iowa Rep. Shannon Lundgren, R-Peosota, for comment, but she did respond at the time of publication.

Our ruling:

In sponsoring legislation designed to require that at least 75 percent of students admitted to the UI colleges of medicine and dentistry come from Iowa, Meyer stated that the current rate of admission for these homegrown students is already “68 to 70 percent.”

A look at available data shows that while Iowa residents and students who have already studied at Iowa schools already make up the majority of admissions at these schools, Meyer overshoots the estimates a bit in her statement when she explains why she wants this bill. Actual numbers show 57 percent to 66 percent of college of medicine graduate and professional students are residents, above 87 percent of postgraduates were residents for the 2019-20 academic year. That said, her figures are reasonably close to reality and support her overall point. We rate the statement Mostly True. 


University of Iowa Office of the Registrar, Profile of Students Enrolled 

University of Iowa Office of the Registrar, Enrollment reports

Iowa Legislature, House File 2383

Iowa Legislature, House File 2115

Iowa House of Representatives floor hearing, Feb. 25, 2020 

University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine, 2019 Entering Class Profile 

Email exchanges with Iowa state Rep. Ann Meyer R-Fort Dodge

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