By: Jennifer Hong - Staff Writer
Published: May 9, 2021

College Degree And Lifetime Earnings (Diploma)

College Degree And Lifetime Earnings - We have put together some statistics on college degree and lifetime earnings. Can a college degree really get you more money than a high school diploma? The quick answer is yes, according to a recent report from the U.S. Census Bureau.

How much is higher education worth in cold hard money? A college master’s degree is worth $1.3 million more in lifetime earnings than a high school diploma, according to a recent report from the U.S. Census Bureau.

The lastest report reveals that over an adult’s working life, high school graduates can expect, on average, to earn $1.2 million; those with a bachelor’s degree, $2.1 million; and people with a master’s degree, $2.5 million.

Persons with doctoral degrees earn an average of $3.4 million during their working life, while those with professional degrees do best at $4.4 million.

“At most ages, more education equates with higher earnings, and the payoff is most notable at the highest educational levels,” said Jennifer Cheeseman Day, co-author of the report.

The figures are based on 1999 earnings projected over a typical work life, defined as the period from ages 25 through 64. Some would argue that all of that changed after 2008 because of the economic recession. That could be true, but a recession can also open up bigger opportunities.

Along with the financial data, the report also shows that more Americans are staying in school longer than ever before. In 2000, 84 percent of American adults age 25 and over had at least completed high school and 26 percent continued to earn a bachelor’s degree or higher, both all-time highs. However, many students had to leave school after 2008 because of the growing costs.


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