Special Report

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

21. Maine
> Pct. of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree:
29.4%
> Pct. of adults with at least a high school diploma: 91.7%
> 2014 median household income: $49,462 (19th lowest)
> Median earnings for bachelor degree holders: $40,695 (19th lowest)

States with high proportions of college-educated adults almost always also had similarly strong high school attainment rates. In Maine, 29.4% of adults had at least bachelor’s degree, the 21st highest rate in the nation. However, 91.7% of adults had at least a high school diploma, the ninth highest rate nationwide. In most states where the collegiate attainment rate was similar to the national rate, the median household income was also similar to the national median income. Maine was an exception. The typical household in Maine was $49,462 in 2014, nearly $4,200 less than the national median income of $53,657.

22. Montana
> Pct. of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree:
29.3%
> Pct. of adults with at least a high school diploma: 92.6%
> 2014 median household income: $46,328 (10th lowest)
> Median earnings for bachelor degree holders: $37,487 (10th lowest)

Montana’s collegiate attainment rate was roughly in line with the national rate, with 29.3% of adults having earned at least a bachelor’s degree, compared to the national rate of 30.1%. While it might be expected that the state would have a similarly average share of high school graduates, this was not the case. In Montana, 92.6% of adults had at least a high school diploma, the second highest rate nationwide. As in many other states where the educational attainment rate was about the same as the national rate, school funding was also roughly in line with the national average spending. Montana’s public school system spent $10,625 per pupil in 2013, almost exactly the same amount as the nationwide average of $10,700 per pupil.

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23. Georgia
> Pct. of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree:
29.1%
> Pct. of adults with at least a high school diploma: 85.6%
> 2014 median household income: $49,321 (17th lowest)
> Median earnings for bachelor degree holders: $48,679 (17th lowest)

Only 85.6% of Georgia adults had graduated from high school in 2014, the 11th lowest secondary educational attainment rate in the country. This educational attainment rate did not change from 2013 to 2014. Low high school diploma attainment rates are traditionally tied with high poverty rates, and at 18.3%, Georgia had the seventh highest poverty rate in the country. Nevertheless, 29.1% of Georgia residents had at least bachelor’s degree — average compared to other states.

24. Pennsylvania
> Pct. of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree:
29.0%
> Pct. of adults with at least a high school diploma: 89.4%
> 2014 median household income: $53,234 (22nd highest)
> Median earnings for bachelor degree holders: $50,017 (22nd highest)

Both educational attainment and median household income in Pennsylvania were roughly in line with the corresponding national figures. In the Keystone State, 29.0% of adults had at least a bachelor’s degree, slightly less than the 30.1% of adults with similar educational attainment across the country. Correspondingly, the typical Pennsylvania household earned about $53,234 last year, only a few hundred dollars less than the $53,657 the typical American household earned. Though Pennsylvania’s educational attainment rates were about average, the state invested much more money than most states in its public schools. Pennsylvania spent about $13,900 per public school student in 2013, more than all but eight other states.

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25. North Carolina
> Pct. of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree:
28.7%
> Pct. of adults with at least a high school diploma: 86.4%
> 2014 median household income: $46,556 (11th lowest)
> Median earnings for bachelor degree holders: $44,021 (11th lowest)

North Carolina’s Research Triangle, which includes Duke University, UNC-Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University, is a region with a substantial cluster of research, medicine, and technology jobs. Despite this, North Carolina’s percentage of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree ranked 25th in the country. While North Carolina’s bachelor’s degree attainment rate was roughly in line with the national average, the typical North Carolina household brought in much less than the typical American household. In 2014, median household income in the state was $46,556, significantly less than corresponding national figure of $53,657. North Carolina invests relatively little in public education. In 2013, the state spent an average of $8,390 per student, the ninth lowest amount in the country.