NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

COLLEGE GRADUATES EARN MORE

October 26, 2006

How much is a bachelor's degree worth?  About $23,000 a year, the government said in a report released today.

That is the average gap in earnings between adults with bachelor's degrees and those with high school diplomas, according to the Census Bureau:

  • College graduates made an average of $51,554 in 2004, compared with $28,645 for adults with a high school diploma.
  • High school dropouts earned an average of $19,169, and those with advanced college degrees made an average of $78,093.

The income gap narrowed slightly from five years earlier, when college graduates made nearly twice as much as high school graduates.  But the differences remained significant for men and women of every racial and ethnic group:

  • Eighty-five percent of people 25 and older have at least a high school diploma or the equivalent, compared with 80 percent in 2000 and a little more than half in 1970.
  • Twenty-eight percent have at least a bachelor's degree, compared with about 24 percent in 2000 and 11 percent in 1970.

Among the other findings:

  • Minnesota, Utah, Montana, New Hampshire and Alaska had the highest proportions of adults with at least a high school diploma -- all at about 92 percent.
  • Texas had the lowest proportion of adults with at least a high school diploma, about 78 percent; it was followed closely by Kentucky and Mississippi.
  • Connecticut was the state with the highest proportion of adults with at least a bachelor's degree, nearly 37 percent; it was followed closely by Massachusetts, Maryland and New Jersey.
  • West Virginia had the lowest proportion of college graduates, at 15 percent; it was followed at the bottom by Arkansas, Kentucky and Louisiana.

Source: Stephen Ohlemacher, "A college degree is worth $23,000," Associated Press/Miami Herald, October 26, 2006.

 

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