The average cost of a college education in the United States is $35,720 a year — three times higher than it was two decades ago. Surging prices have led to unprecedented student debt levels totalling more than $1.7 trillion and may partially explain why college enrollment has fallen by nearly 2% a year since 2010. (This is the most expensive college in every state.)
Nonetheless, while a college education may not be for everyone, it remains a valuable asset that can offer better access to career opportunities, improve job security, and increase earning potential. Nationwide, an estimated 32.1% of American adults 25 and older have a bachelor’s degree or higher. Educational attainment rates vary considerably across the country, however, and in some counties, the share of adults with a bachelor’s degree is more than double the national average.
Using education data from the U.S. Census Bureau, 24/7 Wall St. identified the most educated counties or county equivalents in the United States. In each of the cities on this list, over 70% of the adult population have at least a bachelor’s degree. (Here’s a list of how many people have had a college degree every year since 1971.)
The average weekly wage for a college-educated worker in the United States is about 67% higher than it is for those with no more than a high school diploma. Additionally, college-educated Americans are less than half as likely to be unemployed as those who only finished high school. In all but eight counties on this list, the typical household earns more than the national median household income of $62,843, and most have a lower five-year average unemployment rate among the 25 to 64-year-old population than the comparable 4.4% national figure.
Several of the counties and county equivalents on this list, including Tompkins County, New York; Story County, Iowa; and the independent city of Charlottesville, Virginia, are home to major research universities. These areas have large graduate school populations and often a concentration of employers that require university graduates to fill high-skill jobs.