America’s Best (and Worst) Educated States

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America’s Worst-Educated States

10. Oklahoma
> Bachelor’s degree or higher: 23.8%
> Median household income: $43,225 (10th lowest)
> Pct. below poverty level: 17.2% (16th highest)

Oklahoma is just one of 15 states in which less than a third of all adults have an associate’s degree or higher. Residents with graduate or professional degrees are also scarce in Oklahoma. Residents who do have an advanced degree in Oklahoma do not earn much — the median earnings for adults with graduate or professional degrees is just $51,631, the fifth-lowest in the nation. Of Oklahoma’s adults with less than a high school degree, 28.5% live below the poverty line, compared to the 4.3% with a bachelor’s degree or higher.

9. Tennessee
> Bachelor’s degree or higher: 23.6%
> Median household income: $41,693 (6th lowest)
> Pct. below poverty level: 18.3% (12th highest)

In Tennessee, the median earnings for an adult with an advanced degree is more than three times higher than that for a high school dropout. Despite the opportunity, just 8.3% of adults have graduate degrees, far below the national rate of 10.6%. Meanwhile 15.8% of adults lack even high school diplomas, well above the 14.1% for the U.S. overall. Residents with only a high school education are far more likely to live in poverty. Of residents with a high school education, 30.6% live in poverty, whereas only 3.8 of those who have at least bachelor’s degree live in poverty. One area in which Tennessee is especially strong: 96.4% of people aged 16 to 19 are either in high school or have their diploma, one of the higher rates in the U.S.

8. Indiana
> Bachelor’s degree or higher: 23.0%
> Median household income: $46,438 (20th lowest)
> Pct. below poverty level: 16.0% (21st highest)

By one measure, Indiana does well providing its residents with an education — the percentage of adults who graduated high school, at 87.3%, exceeds the national rate of 85.9%. For many, however, education ends after high school. Only 30.9% of adults have at least an associate’s degree, while only 23% have at least a bachelor’s degree, both among the lowest rates in the U.S. Additionally, just 94% of current residents between 16 and 19 are either in high school or have graduated, a low compared to the national rate of 95.1%.

Also Read: America’s Richest States

7. Nevada
> Bachelor’s degree or higher: 22.5%
> Median household income: $48,927 (24th lowest)
> Pct. below poverty level: 15.9% (23rd highest)

In Nevada, only 29.7% of adults have at least an associate’s degree, while the percentage of adults with a bachelor’s degree is just 22.5%. Both of these figures are among the nation’s worst. Within the state, 6% of adults with bachelor’s degrees still live below the poverty line, one of the worst rates in the country. Having a bachelor’s degree is not as much of an advantage in Nevada as it is in other parts of the country. Median earning for adults with less than a high school degree is well more than the national median. At the same time, those with at least a bachelor’s degree earn less than the median college graduate nationwide.

6. Alabama
> Bachelor’s degree or higher: 22.3%
> Median household income: $41,415 (5th lowest)
> Pct. below poverty level: 19.0% (7th highest)

Alabama has one of the nation’s worst high school attainment rates. Among adults 25 and older, 17.3% do not have high school diploma, the fifth-worst percentage in the U.S. For those aged 16 to 19, just 93.7% were either still in high school or had graduated, among the lowest rates in the nation. Only 22.3% of adults have at least a bachelor’s degree in Alabama. More than one in four Nevada adults have some college education, but have not completed a degree, compared to the 21.2% nationwide.