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Do College Grads Really Make More?

Graduation hat at university
Graduation hat at university

How much more does a college graduate earn than one with just a high school diploma?

Adults--young and old, male and female--who have a bachelor's degree or higher have twice the annual median income than someone with only a high school degree.

Looking at the median annual earnings of young adults ages 25 to 34, those who had not completed high school had lower incomes than those of their counterparts who had done so. Even though gaps still persist in median incomes by gender, both men and women college graduates earned more than those who completed only high school or a General Education Development Certificate (GED), according to data from the National Center for Education Statistics.

Median Income of Full-time Workers Ages 25-34:

High School Graduate or GED

Bachelor's Degree or Higher

Male

$32,970

$54,710

Female

$25,000

$49,810

Source: U.S. Department of Education

Overall, the annual median income of someone with a bachelor's degree or higher has outpaced the earnings of someone with only a high school diploma or equivalent. In fact, over the past decade or two, the annual earnings of someone working full-time who only had a high school diploma declined, relative to the increased earnings of someone with a bachelor's degree or higher.

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