Niche Resources
Niche Resources
Niche Resources

How Much More Money a Higher Degree Gets You in Every State

Deciding to further your education is a big investment.  Just like any other investment, it is important to think about the payout.  

Here is, on average, how much extra income you will have for the rest of your life if you decide to make this leap. The table below shows you exactly how much more money you could expect to have in each state by upping your education one level: from High School  to Associate’s, from  Associate’s degree to Bachelor’s, from Bachelor’s to Master’s, and from Master’s to Doctorate.

To determine the worth you would get from furthering your education in every state, we looked at the median income in each state in 2017 for adults 67 or younger, the median student debt of graduates at each education level in 2017*, and the 2019 student loan interest rate for undergraduate and graduate federal loans.

The Marginal Benefit of Each Degree by State

State High School to Associate's Associate's to Bachelor's Bachelor's to Master's Master's to Doctorate What Your Dollar Is Worth in That State
State Alabama
High School to Associate's $442,482
Associate's to Bachelor's $401,038
Bachelor's to Master's $380,298
Master's to Doctorate $979,574
What Your Dollar Is Worth in That State $1.13
State Alaska
High School to Associate's $626,057
Associate's to Bachelor's $347,288
Bachelor's to Master's $811,998
Master's to Doctorate -$121,776
What Your Dollar Is Worth in That State $0.96
State Arizona
High School to Associate's $508,442
Associate's to Bachelor's $510,948
Bachelor's to Master's $282,728
Master's to Doctorate $901,524
What Your Dollar Is Worth in That State $1.04
State Arkansas
High School to Associate's $347,857
Associate's to Bachelor's $526,838
Bachelor's to Master's $331,598
Master's to Doctorate $1,056,924
What Your Dollar Is Worth in That State $1.14
State California
High School to Associate's $473,607
Associate's to Bachelor's $793,788
Bachelor's to Master's $778,798
Master's to Doctorate $644,624
What Your Dollar Is Worth in That State $0.85
State Colorado
High School to Associate's $387,857
Associate's to Bachelor's $500,338
Bachelor's to Master's $310,098
Master's to Doctorate $742,174
What Your Dollar Is Worth in That State $0.97
State Connecticut
High School to Associate's $629,107
Associate's to Bachelor's $648,988
Bachelor's to Master's $535,898
Master's to Doctorate $616,774
What Your Dollar Is Worth in That State $0.92
State Delaware
High School to Associate's $753,057
Associate's to Bachelor's $218,738
Bachelor's to Master's $602,048
Master's to Doctorate $133,324
What Your Dollar Is Worth in That State $1.00
State District of Columbia
High School to Associate's $1,423,837
Associate's to Bachelor's $730,738
Bachelor's to Master's $656,898
Master's to Doctorate $1,347,774
What Your Dollar Is Worth in That State $0.83
State Florida
High School to Associate's $385,857
Associate's to Bachelor's $418,238
Bachelor's to Master's $426,098
Master's to Doctorate $604,974
What Your Dollar Is Worth in That State $1.00
State Georgia
High School to Associate's $380,457
Associate's to Bachelor's $652,088
Bachelor's to Master's $337,088
Master's to Doctorate $653,784
What Your Dollar Is Worth in That State $1.08
State Hawaii
High School to Associate's $762,907
Associate's to Bachelor's $112,788
Bachelor's to Master's $486,848
Master's to Doctorate $760,524
What Your Dollar Is Worth in That State $0.82
State Idaho
High School to Associate's $158,692
Associate's to Bachelor's $477,088
Bachelor's to Master's $612,998
Master's to Doctorate $606,574
What Your Dollar Is Worth in That State $1.07
State Illinois
High School to Associate's $470,272
Associate's to Bachelor's $652,483
Bachelor's to Master's $311,968
Master's to Doctorate $778,994
What Your Dollar Is Worth in That State $1.02
State Indiana
High School to Associate's $316,257
Associate's to Bachelor's $523,538
Bachelor's to Master's $190,998
Master's to Doctorate $999,574
What Your Dollar Is Worth in That State $1.10
State Iowa
High School to Associate's $391,757
Associate's to Bachelor's $358,988
Bachelor's to Master's $301,748
Master's to Doctorate $301,324
What Your Dollar Is Worth in That State $1.10
State Kansas
High School to Associate's $302,347
Associate's to Bachelor's $493,588
Bachelor's to Master's $230,348
Master's to Doctorate $665,774
What Your Dollar Is Worth in That State $1.10
State Kentucky
High School to Associate's $424,357
Associate's to Bachelor's $459,663
Bachelor's to Master's $250,273
Master's to Doctorate $1,017,424
What Your Dollar Is Worth in That State $1.12
State Louisiana
High School to Associate's $501,882
Associate's to Bachelor's $463,173
Bachelor's to Master's $191,063
Master's to Doctorate $1,087,574
What Your Dollar Is Worth in That State $1.10
State Maine
High School to Associate's $548,707
Associate's to Bachelor's $258,588
Bachelor's to Master's $311,298
Master's to Doctorate $190,074
What Your Dollar Is Worth in That State $1.02
State Maryland
High School to Associate's $506,857
Associate's to Bachelor's $785,588
Bachelor's to Master's $524,198
Master's to Doctorate $955,674
What Your Dollar Is Worth in That State $0.91
State Massachusetts
High School to Associate's $524,057
Associate's to Bachelor's $745,238
Bachelor's to Master's $511,648
Master's to Doctorate $858,974
What Your Dollar Is Worth in That State $0.92
State Michigan
High School to Associate's $436,557
Associate's to Bachelor's $452,688
Bachelor's to Master's $491,248
Master's to Doctorate $918,824
What Your Dollar Is Worth in That State $1.07
State Minnesota
High School to Associate's $504,457
Associate's to Bachelor's $470,888
Bachelor's to Master's $359,698
Master's to Doctorate $358,674
What Your Dollar Is Worth in That State $1.03
State Mississippi
High School to Associate's $476,407
Associate's to Bachelor's $207,638
Bachelor's to Master's $447,498
Master's to Doctorate $360,924
What Your Dollar Is Worth in That State $1.14
State Missouri
High School to Associate's $358,157
Associate's to Bachelor's $495,088
Bachelor's to Master's $145,748
Master's to Doctorate $815,724
What Your Dollar Is Worth in That State $1.11
State Montana
High School to Associate's $159,722
Associate's to Bachelor's $431,638
Bachelor's to Master's $352,098
Master's to Doctorate $380,924
What Your Dollar Is Worth in That State $1.05
State Nebraska
High School to Associate's $379,657
Associate's to Bachelor's $310,438
Bachelor's to Master's $364,898
Master's to Doctorate $624,174
What Your Dollar Is Worth in That State $1.10
State Nevada
High School to Associate's $391,757
Associate's to Bachelor's $242,288
Bachelor's to Master's $440,573
Master's to Doctorate $540,499
What Your Dollar Is Worth in That State $1.02
State New Hampshire
High School to Associate's $467,957
Associate's to Bachelor's $375,938
Bachelor's to Master's $371,248
Master's to Doctorate $1,019,574
What Your Dollar Is Worth in That State $0.94
State New Jersey
High School to Associate's $613,707
Associate's to Bachelor's $746,738
Bachelor's to Master's $738,748
Master's to Doctorate $666,624
What Your Dollar Is Worth in That State $0.87
State New Mexico
High School to Associate's $492,592
Associate's to Bachelor's $373,988
Bachelor's to Master's $606,098
Master's to Doctorate $793,924
What Your Dollar Is Worth in That State $1.07
State New York
High School to Associate's $510,182
Associate's to Bachelor's $654,638
Bachelor's to Master's $369,298
Master's to Doctorate $887,474
What Your Dollar Is Worth in That State $0.84
State North Carolina
High School to Associate's $421,362
Associate's to Bachelor's $496,733
Bachelor's to Master's $263,198
Master's to Doctorate $1,024,424
What Your Dollar Is Worth in That State $1.09
State North Dakota
High School to Associate's $282,607
Associate's to Bachelor's $330,988
Bachelor's to Master's $404,898
Master's to Doctorate $223,324
What Your Dollar Is Worth in That State $1.10
State Ohio
High School to Associate's $379,957
Associate's to Bachelor's $538,628
Bachelor's to Master's $343,708
Master's to Doctorate $567,374
What Your Dollar Is Worth in That State $1.11
State Oklahoma
High School to Associate's $443,607
Associate's to Bachelor's $317,638
Bachelor's to Master's $289,198
Master's to Doctorate $1,082,974
What Your Dollar Is Worth in That State $1.11
State Oregon
High School to Associate's $307,182
Associate's to Bachelor's $397,688
Bachelor's to Master's $502,223
Master's to Doctorate $675,949
What Your Dollar Is Worth in That State $1.01
State Pennsylvania
High School to Associate's $461,257
Associate's to Bachelor's $447,488
Bachelor's to Master's $430,548
Master's to Doctorate $965,974
What Your Dollar Is Worth in That State $1.02
State Rhode Island
High School to Associate's $737,507
Associate's to Bachelor's $400,168
Bachelor's to Master's $345,868
Master's to Doctorate $773,324
What Your Dollar Is Worth in That State $1.01
State South Carolina
High School to Associate's $479,847
Associate's to Bachelor's $419,848
Bachelor's to Master's $179,598
Master's to Doctorate $869,774
What Your Dollar Is Worth in That State $1.10
State South Dakota
High School to Associate's $385,457
Associate's to Bachelor's $175,638
Bachelor's to Master's $235,198
Master's to Doctorate -$165,826
What Your Dollar Is Worth in That State $1.12
State Tennessee
High School to Associate's $443,517
Associate's to Bachelor's $396,278
Bachelor's to Master's $325,998
Master's to Doctorate $719,074
What Your Dollar Is Worth in That State $1.10
State Texas
High School to Associate's $502,582
Associate's to Bachelor's $557,513
Bachelor's to Master's $399,848
Master's to Doctorate $631,274
What Your Dollar Is Worth in That State $1.03
State Utah
High School to Associate's $249,757
Associate's to Bachelor's $380,638
Bachelor's to Master's $715,948
Master's to Doctorate $1,082,474
What Your Dollar Is Worth in That State $1.03
State Vermont
High School to Associate's $536,357
Associate's to Bachelor's -$205,412
Bachelor's to Master's $482,748
Master's to Doctorate $471,724
What Your Dollar Is Worth in That State $0.98
State Virginia
High School to Associate's $427,472
Associate's to Bachelor's $754,488
Bachelor's to Master's $856,248
Master's to Doctorate $617,674
What Your Dollar Is Worth in That State $0.98
State Washington
High School to Associate's $347,207
Associate's to Bachelor's $659,938
Bachelor's to Master's $600,448
Master's to Doctorate $509,074
What Your Dollar Is Worth in That State $0.94
State West Virginia
High School to Associate's $460,587
Associate's to Bachelor's $405,908
Bachelor's to Master's $241,598
Master's to Doctorate $1,228,874
What Your Dollar Is Worth in That State $1.13
State Wisconsin
High School to Associate's $422,357
Associate's to Bachelor's $320,588
Bachelor's to Master's $254,948
Master's to Doctorate $1,036,574
What Your Dollar Is Worth in That State $1.08
State Wyoming
High School to Associate's $272,977
Associate's to Bachelor's $263,388
Bachelor's to Master's $399,998
Master's to Doctorate -$102,126
What Your Dollar Is Worth in That State $1.05

Some Interesting Anomalies

In Vermont, there is a cost of getting a bachelor’s compared to an Associates degree.  This could be due to:

    • The small sample size in Vermont.
    • The population in Vermont aging faster than that of the rest of the U.S., combined with the labor opportunities in the last 60 years being less focused on advanced degrees in the state. (So lifetime income estimated on an older population that is less likely to have gotten a Bachelor’s). Vermont’s 2018 State Plan on aging projects that by 2030, 1 in 4 residents will be over the age of 65. 
    • This large number of retirees moving to the state, with the limited younger population moving in, could be skewing the results. This is because people age 67 or younger with a Bachelor’s degree who are retired would be reporting no income or low income if they take on part time jobs instead of continuing to work full time, therefore suppressing the lifetime income.
    • This result might be short lived since in 2018 Vermont was listed as a state with growing opportunities for jobs with great benefits which can attract a younger more competitive population of workers.

In Alaska, South Dakota, and Wyoming there is a cost to getting a Doctoral degree compared to a Master’s. This could be because:

    •  There’s a limited demand for only PhD level experience in these states, which would drive wages down. 
    • There is also a limited sample size of these states’ populations with PhD degrees, which can make the data inconclusive. 

The Bottom Line

In most cases, and in most states, a higher degree will net you more cash over your working life. But it’s worth thinking about how much more you’ll actually make, and how far a dollar really goes where you live.

It’s also important to weigh whether or not a higher degree in your field, specifically, will be worth the investment. Not sure? For more guidance on that topic, check out our blog post that explains how to know if grad school is the right decision.

Curious about the next step? Start here

Sources: American Community Survey 2017, U.S. Dept. of Ed College Scorecard Preliminary Loan Debt Data, U.S. Dept. of Ed Federal Student Aid Office, Bureau of Economic Advisors

*Note: We decided to take the median national debt and subtract it from the lifetime income in each state instead of the median state debt.  We felt this was more fitting for the current generation, which is much more likely to move across state lines compared to previous generations.