4. Ithaca, N.Y.
> Bachelor’s degree or higher: 50.9%
> Median household income: $48,516 (177th highest)
> Median earnings – bachelor’s degree: $36,172 (17th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 20.3% (65th highest)
Like most well-educated cities, Ithaca has a large population of young people, many of whom attend Cornell University. Compared to the nation, the city had twice the proportion of 20-24 year old residents. The presence of a large research institution has a positive impact on the area’s economy. Ithaca residents were several times more likely to work in education and health services than their fellow Americans. Average wages in those sectors were also considerably higher than nationwide. Among graduates and households, however, median earnings were quite low. A typical household in Ithaca earned $48,516 last year, less than the national median. And while the nationwide median earnings for adults with a graduate degree was more than $65,000 last year, similarly educated Ithaca residents had median earnings of less than $47,000.
3. Corvallis, Ore.
> Bachelor’s degree or higher: 52.2%
> Median household income: $47,808 (188th lowest)
> Median earnings – bachelor’s degree: $36,211 (18th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 23.1% (23rd highest)
Corvallis is described by the area chamber of commerce as having a “college town atmosphere and an economy rooted in education, high-tech industries and healthcare.” The sentiment is largely due to the presence of Oregon State University, where nearly 25,000 students are currently enrolled. The city seems able to retain many graduates, as more than 52% of adults in the area had completed at least a bachelor’s degree last year. The job market is likely very competitive for college graduates, however, as median earnings were low for area adults with bachelor’s degrees. A typical college-educated adult earned just $36,211 last year, considerably lower than the national figure of $50,050.
2. Ann Arbor, Mich.
> Bachelor’s degree or higher: 53.5%
> Median household income: $59,660 (46th highest)
> Median earnings – bachelor’s degree: $46,829 (136th highest)
> Poverty rate: 16.7% (174th highest)
A typical household in Ann Arbor earned nearly $60,000 last year, well above the national median household income and the highest figure among all Michigan metro areas. The high incomes may be explained in part by high educational attainment rates, as median earnings for residents with graduate degrees were $72,207, among the highest nationwide. A typical adult with a bachelor’s degree, on the other hand, earned less than the national figure of $50,050. With nearly 44,000 students enrolled — including 15,427 graduate students — and thousands of staff, the University of Michigan is a major contributor to Ann Arbor’s community.
1. Boulder, Colo.
> Bachelor’s degree or higher: 58.5%
> Median household income: $71,604 (9th highest)
> Median earnings – bachelor’s degree: $44,060 (188th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 13.9% (94th lowest)
Almost 59% of adults living in Boulder had attained at least a bachelor’s degree as of 2013, the highest figure among all U.S. cities and nearly double the national rate of 29.6%. Area residents were also quite wealthy, with a typical household earning $71,604 in 2013, among the highest figures in the country. Boulder’s poverty rate of 13.9% was also lower than most cities on this list, as well as lower than the nation. Like nearly all well-educated cities, Boulder residents live in proximity to a major academic institution. Approximately 32,000 students were enrolled at the University of Colorado at Boulder last year.