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Continuing Studies

The Value of Higher Education

Obtaining an undergraduate or graduate degree is almost always worth the investment, as evidenced by higher annual earnings and total earnings over a lifetime. The higher the level of educational attainment, the higher the payoff.

What’s more, the gap is widening. In 2002, a bachelor’s degree-holder could expect to earn 75 percent more over a lifetime than someone with only a high school diploma. Today, that premium is 84 percent. (Source: Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce)

Annual Earnings

In 2015, young adults with a bachelor’s degree earned 64% more per year than those workers with only a high school diploma. The median earnings of young adults with a bachelor’s degree were $50,000, compared to $30,500 for young adult high school completers, and $36,900 for young adults with an associate’s degree. (Source: National Center for Education Statistics)

In 2015, young adults with a master’s or higher degree earned 20% more per year than those with a bachelor’s degree. (Source: National Center for Education Statistics

Lifetime Earnings

On average:

  • A high school dropout can expect to earn $973,000 over a lifetime.
  • Someone with a high school diploma can expect to earn $1.3 million over a lifetime.
  • A worker with some college but no degree earns $1.5 million over a lifetime.
  • An Associate’s degree-holder earns $1.7 million over a lifetime.
  • A worker with a Bachelor’s degree will earn $2.3 million over a lifetime.
  • A Master’s degree-holder earns $2.7 million over a lifetime.

(Source: Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce)