Special Report

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

Blair High School, Nebraska
Source: Wikimedia Commons

21. Nebraska
> Pct. of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 30.2%
> Pct. of adults with at least a high school diploma: 91.0%
> 2015 median household income: $54,996 (24th highest)
> Median earnings for bachelor degree holders: $46,833 (24th highest)

In Nebraska, 30.2% of adults have at least a bachelor’s degree, slightly less than the 30.6% national attainment rate. Despite similar educational attainment, the typical college graduate in Nebraska earns roughly $4,000 less than the typical American college graduate. The cost of living is relatively low in Nebraska, however, and college graduates may be able to afford lifestyles similar to those in the rest of the country.

Portland High School, Maine
Source: Wikimedia Commons

22. Maine
> Pct. of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 30.1%
> Pct. of adults with at least a high school diploma: 91.7%
> 2015 median household income: $51,494 (21st lowest)
> Median earnings for bachelor degree holders: $41,214 (4th lowest)

In Maine, 30.1% of adults have at least a bachelor’s degree, slightly less than the 30.6% national share. While Maine’s 91.7% high school attainment rate is the seventh highest in the country, the state’s economic prospects may not attract many college graduates to the area. The typical worker with a bachelor’s degree in Maine earns just $41,214 a year, the fourth lowest of any state. Also, just 8.3% of Maine workers hold high-paying professional, scientific, and management positions, one of the smaller shares in the country.

Gainesville, Georgia
Source: Wikimedia Commons

23. Georgia
> Pct. of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 29.9%
> Pct. of adults with at least a high school diploma: 86.1%
> 2015 median household income: $51,244 (19th lowest)
> Median earnings for bachelor degree holders: $49,696 (21st highest)

Roughly 30% of Georgia adults have at least a bachelor’s degree, slightly less than the national share. The typical college graduate in Georgia earns $49,696 a year, also slightly less than the national median earnings for Americans with a bachelor’s degree. While Georgians share similar educational outcomes to the country as a whole, the state is one of the poorest in the nation. The 17.0% poverty rate is the ninth highest in the country, and the 8.0% of households earning less than $10,000 a year is one of the larger shares of any state.

Crest Cedar College, Allentown, Pennsylvania
Source: Thinkstock

24. Pennsylvania
> Pct. of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 29.7%
> Pct. of adults with at least a high school diploma: 89.7%
> 2015 median household income: $55,702 (21st highest)
> Median earnings for bachelor degree holders: $50,791 (16th highest)

The college attainment rate remained unchanged in most states last year. In Pennsylvania, however, the share of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree rose slightly from 29.0% to its current level of 29.7%. Educational attainment tends to reflect incomes in a state, and in addition to having slightly below average college attainment, income levels in Pennsylvania are also slightly below the median.

Lathrop High School, Fairbanks, Alaska
Source: Wikimedia Commons

25. Alaska
> Pct. of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 29.7%
> Pct. of adults with at least a high school diploma: 92.6%
> 2015 median household income: $73,355 (3rd highest)
> Median earnings for bachelor degree holders: $52,885 (9th highest)

The percentage of Alaskan adults who have at least a bachelor’s degree increased by 1.7 percentage points last year, one of the largest such growths of any state. Still, at 29.7%, the state’s college attainment rate is slightly below the national rate. Unlike most states where people are less likely to have a bachelor’s degree than adults nationwide, Alaskans are quite wealthy. The median household income of $73,355 is the third highest in the nation.