America’s Best (and Worst) Educated States

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America’s Best-Educated States

10. Minnesota
> Bachelor’s degree or higher: 32.4%
> Median household income:  $56,954 (11th highest)
> Pct. below poverty level: 11.9% (11th lowest)

Nearly one in three Minnesota adults aged 25 or older has a bachelor’s degree or higher, the 10th-highest percentage in the country. Minnesota’s educational attainment at the earliest levels is even higher than it is at the college level. Just 4.7% of adults had started — but not completed — high school, compared to the 8.1% of adults who fell into that category nationally. Just 8% of Minnesotans 25 or older do not have a high school diploma, compared to the 14.1% nationwide. However, among states with the most college graduates, Minnesota has fewer adults who go on to the next level of education. Only 10.5% of adults have graduate or professional degrees, the 17th highest nationwide.

9. New York
> Bachelor’s degree or higher: 32.9%
> Median household income:  $55,246 (16th highest)
> Pct. below poverty level: 16.0% (21st highest)

More than 14% of New Yorkers have an advanced degree, one of the highest percentages in the U.S. However, while many New Yorkers are highly educated, another large group lacks basic education. Just 85% of New Yorkers have at least a high school diploma, close to 1 percentage point below the national rate. Educational attainment dramatically affects New York residents’ ability to earn a living, where the median annual earnings for someone with only a high school diploma is $28,405, less than half the median earnings of $68,079 for someone with a graduate or professional degree.

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8. New Hampshire
> Bachelor’s degree or higher: 33.4%
> Median household income:  $62,647 (6th highest)
> Pct. below poverty level: 8.8% (the least)

More New Hampshire adults have at least completed high school than all but five states — 91.4%, compared to the national rate of 85.9%. The benefits for those 33.4% who have at least a bachelor’s degree are quite high. The state poverty rate is 8.8%, which is already the lowest in the country. Meanwhile, just 2.2% of those with at least a bachelor’s degree live below the poverty line, also the lowest rate in the country.

7. Virginia
> Bachelor’s degree or higher: 35.1%
> Median household income:  $61,882 (7th highest)
> Pct. below poverty level: 11.5% (tied-8th lowest)

Although Virginia is one of the nation’s most-educated states, with 20.5% of adults with just bachelor’s degrees and another 14.6% with advanced degrees, the state still struggles to graduate many students from high school. According to the Census Bureau, only 87.8% of adult Virginians have high school diplomas — worse than any of the most-educated states, except New York. The median earnings for adults without high school diplomas is just $19,892 a year, compared to the median of $78,532 for residents with advanced degrees.

6. New Jersey
> Bachelor’s degree or higher: 35.3%
> Median household income:  $67,458 (3rd highest)
> Pct. below poverty level: 10.4% (3rd lowest)

New Jersey is one of the most well-to-do states in the country, with just 10.4% of residents living below the poverty level, compared to a national rate of 15.9%. It also has the third-highest median household income in the country, at $67,458. Residents with bachelor’s degree also earn more than college graduates of any other state, at $60,107. The national median earnings for bachelor’s degree recipients is $48,309. More than 21% of New Jersey adults without a high school degree were living below the poverty line, compared to the just 3.1% of those with a bachelor’s degree or higher.