Special Report

America's Most and Least Educated States: A Survey of All 50

16. Hawaii
> Pct. of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree:
31.0%
> Pct. of adults with at least a high school diploma: 91.7%
> 2014 median household income: $69,592 (5th highest)
> Median earnings for bachelor degree holders: $49,725 (5th highest)

In Hawaii, 91.7% of adults had at least a high school diploma, the ninth highest rate nationwide. Nationwide, higher college attainment rates are associated with higher income levels. This was especially the case in Hawaii, where 31% of the adults had a college degree, and the median household income was $69,592 — each some of the highest such figures in the country. Although Hawaii had a relatively large share college educated adults, the state was one of six where the percentage of residents with a bachelor’s degree actually decreased from 2013 to 2014.

17. Oregon
> Pct. of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree:
30.8%
> Pct. of adults with at least a high school diploma: 89.7%
> 2014 median household income: $51,075 (23rd lowest)
> Median earnings for bachelor degree holders: $42,084 (23rd lowest)

Typically, in states where the educational attainment rate was similar to the national average, the median household income was also roughly in line with the national median income level. In Oregon, however, educational attainment rates were slightly higher than the national average and median incomes were slightly lower. Across the state, 30.8% of adults had received a bachelor’s degree, only slightly more than the corresponding national figure of 30.1%. The state’s median household income of $51,075 however, was slightly less than the national median income of $53,657. Despite a better than average bachelor’s degree attainment rate, 16.6% of Oregon residents lived in poverty, the 14th highest poverty rate in the country. Almost 19% of Oregon households received food stamps, the highest recipiency rate in the country.

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18. Delaware
> Pct. of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree:
30.6%
> Pct. of adults with at least a high school diploma: 89.0%
> 2014 median household income: $59,716 (14th highest)
> Median earnings for bachelor degree holders: $51,577 (14th highest)

Nationwide, higher college attainment rates are associated with higher income levels. This was especially the case in Delaware, where nearly 31% of the adults had a bachelor’s degree, and the median household income was $59,716 — each some of the highest such figures in the country. High college attainment rates have also been traditionally tied to high investment in public education. Delaware spent an average of $13,833 per student in 2013, the 10th highest average spending per student of any state. Delaware also had the highest percentage of the workforce employed in finance, insurance, real estate, rental, and leasing — at nearly one in 10 workers — a traditionally high paying industry that requires better-educated workers.

19. Rhode Island
> Pct. of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree:
30.4%
> Pct. of adults with at least a high school diploma: 85.8%
> 2014 median household income: $54,891 (19th highest)
> Median earnings for bachelor degree holders: $49,218 (19th highest)

As in many other states where the bachelor’s degree attainment rate was near the national average, the median household income in Rhode Island was also roughly in line with the national income level. Rhode Island’s median household income of $54,891 was about $1,000 higher than the national median income. The percentage of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree increased in most states in 2014 compared to 2013, as it did nationwide — by half a percentage point. The rate declined in only six states. In Rhode Island the rate decreased by a full 2 percentage points, the largest decrease of any state. The state’s rate of adults with a high school diploma remained the same.

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20. Nebraska
> Pct. of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree:
29.5%
> Pct. of adults with at least a high school diploma: 90.3%
> 2014 median household income: $52,686 (24th highest)
> Median earnings for bachelor degree holders: $43,402 (24th highest)

Statewide educational attainment is roughly tied to median household income, as higher education qualifies graduates for higher-paying jobs, and higher incomes can make college education more affordable. States with educational attainment rates near the national average often have median household incomes in line with the national average, and vice versa. Nebraska’s median household income level of $52,686 was about $1,000 less than the national median income of $53,657. Likewise, 29.5% of Nebraska residents had at least a bachelor’s degree, 0.6 percentage points less than the national collegiate educational attainment rate.