So, you’re wondering if going to college will make you richer, huh? Here’s the skinny: College grads usually make about $1,173 a week, but if you stick with just a high school diploma, you’re looking at $712. Over a whole career, a bachelor’s degree might bring in around $2.8 million, while high school diplomas earn about $1.6 million. But hey, jobs without a degree might be like finding a unicorn. Sure, you’ll avoid student loans, but you’ll need to hustle harder. Want more juicy details on how to fatten that wallet? Stick around, and you might just figure it out!

Main Points

  • Bachelor’s degree holders could earn approximately $2.8 million over their career.
  • High school diploma holders earn around $37,024 annually with limited job opportunities.
  • Associate degree holders earn about $43,472 yearly with better job security than high school graduates.
  • College class attendees without a degree earn $774 weekly.
  • Bachelor’s degree holders have a significantly lower unemployment rate at 2.5%.

Income Differences by Education Level

Understanding how education affects income shows just how important higher education can be for earning more money. Think about it: getting a bachelor’s degree isn’t just about getting a diploma—it’s like unlocking a treasure chest. On average, people with a bachelor’s degree earn $1,173 a week. Compare that to those with only a high school diploma, who earn $712 a week, and you can see why your parents encouraged you to study hard.

Let’s break it down further. If you have just a high school diploma, you’ll make about $37,024 a year. It’s a decent amount, but not a fortune.

With an associate degree, your yearly earnings go up to $43,472. It’s a nice improvement, even if it’s not enough to buy a mansion.

If you took some college classes but didn’t get a degree, you’d still earn more than high school graduates, with an average of $774 a week. Not bad for someone who didn’t finish college, right? Plus, there’s more job security.

The unemployment rate for people with a bachelor’s degree is only 2.5%, compared to 6.5% for those without a high school diploma. So, getting more education is almost like a secret code for better pay and job stability.

Long-Term Earnings Potential

Alright, let’s get real about long-term earnings. With a college degree, you could be rolling in dough, pulling in those big bucks, and retiring to a beach somewhere, sipping piña coladas.

But if you stop at high school, you might be counting pennies and wondering if you can afford that extra guac at Chipotle.

College Degree Advantage

With a bachelor’s degree, you can greatly increase your long-term earnings and job security. Imagine earning an average of $1,173 per week. That’s a lot of movie nights! Higher education isn’t just about studying hard; it’s your ticket to better earnings and job stability. Over your career, you could make around $2.8 million. That’s like being a millionaire!

Now, let’s talk about job security. With a college degree, your chance of being unemployed is only 2.5%. For those without a degree, it’s much higher. Having a degree is like having a safety net while others are walking a tightrope. College graduates not only earn more money but also have more job opportunities, opening doors like a magic key.

But there’s more! Besides the money, a college degree often leads to higher job satisfaction, improved self-esteem, and increased community involvement. Imagine being the confident person at neighborhood BBQs, not just because you know the best grilling tips, but because you have that higher education confidence.

High School Graduate Earnings

High school graduates make about $37,024 a year, which is around $712 a week. That’s okay if you’re still living with your parents and your biggest expense is buying the latest video game. But let’s face it: when you want your own place, a car, and maybe a real vacation, that money mightn’t go very far.

Without a college degree, high school graduates have fewer job opportunities. It’s like trying to fit into your old jeans from high school—it works, but it’s not comfortable. You can get by, but you’re missing out on the higher pay that comes with more education.

Over time, the difference in earnings becomes huge. Someone with a college degree makes about $1.6 million more in their lifetime than someone with only a high school diploma. That’s a lot of extra money for things like concerts, gadgets, or maybe even a small boat. Also, the unemployment rate for high school graduates is 4.6%, which means job security isn’t great.

High School Diploma Earnings

If you have a high school diploma, you can expect to earn about $712 each week. That adds up to around $37,024 per year. With that money, you could buy a good car, go on some vacations, or treat yourself to a fancy coffee every day.

Let’s break it down:

  1. Weekly Earnings: $712. That’s like getting about 95 burritos from your favorite food truck.
  2. Yearly Earnings: $37,024. You could buy a nice used car or a whole bunch of socks.
  3. Unemployment Rate: 4.6%. It’s not the best, but it’s better than working a low-paying job forever.

Having a high school diploma has its benefits. You have more time and freedom compared to your friends in college, who might be dealing with student loans. You can start making money right away, without waiting four years. Plus, you avoid late-night studying and expensive textbooks.

Associate Degree Earnings

Let’s talk about how earning an associate’s degree can help you make more money. Instead of just getting by, having this degree can make life a bit easier. On average, people with an associate’s degree from community colleges earn about $836 a week, which totals to $43,472 a year. That’s a nice bump compared to just having a high school diploma.

For those worried about job security, here’s some good news: the unemployment rate for people with an associate’s degree is just 3.4%. That’s much better than the national average, making you almost untouchable! Plus, it’s not just about the money; having an associate’s degree also gives you more freedom to make choices and grow in your career.

Degree LevelAverage Weekly EarningsUnemployment Rate
High School Diploma$7464.6%
Associate’s Degree$8363.4%
Some College, No Degree$8334.0%
Bachelor’s DegreeTo be discussed nextTo be discussed next
Advanced DegreeTo be discussed nextTo be discussed next

Bachelor’s Degree Earnings

Alright, so let’s talk about bachelor’s degree earnings, shall we?

Imagine making $1,173 a week and having a 2.5% chance of being unemployed—sounds pretty sweet, right?

Plus, with that degree, you’re not just earning more now; you’re setting yourself up for long-term financial stability, like a squirrel hoarding nuts for the winter.

Average Salary Comparison

Having a bachelor’s degree can really boost your earnings. On average, people with a degree make $1,173 a week. That’s a lot more than just some spare change; it’s a big step towards better job security and higher pay.

Here’s the breakdown:

  1. Average Salary: With a degree, you can earn over $60,000 a year.
  2. Job Security: The unemployment rate for degree holders is just 2.5%.
  3. Lifetime Earnings: Over your career, you could make around $2.8 million.

Think about it. Would you rather have a low-paying job or a career where your paycheck makes you smile? A degree is more than just a diploma; it’s your ticket to financial freedom and stability.

College might be tough, with lots of late nights and hard work, but it’s worth it in the end. If you want freedom, a degree is your key.

Long-term Financial Benefits

Investing in a bachelor’s degree can bring you great financial benefits over time. Picture this: you could earn about $1,173 each week, which is much higher than what you’d get with just a high school diploma. Plus, people with a bachelor’s degree have a low unemployment rate of only 2.5%. It’s like having a special pass to better job security and higher wages.

Over a lifetime, you could earn around $2.8 million with a bachelor’s degree. Imagine all the things you could buy with that money! This level of education helps you get better jobs and a more comfortable financial situation. It’s like leveling up in a video game but with real-life rewards.

Sure, getting an advanced degree can make you earn even more, but let’s not jump too far ahead. A bachelor’s degree already gives you a big boost in income compared to those without one. Plus, it’s a great starting point if you decide to go for advanced degrees later on.

Advanced Degrees and Income

Going for an advanced degree can really boost how much money you make and open up great job opportunities. If you dream of owning a nice car or going on fancy vacations, getting a master’s degree might help you get there. People with a master’s degree usually earn more and have better chances at high-paying jobs. Imagine not just getting by, but really doing well!

Here’s why you should think about getting more education:

  1. Higher Income: You can make a lot more money than people with only a bachelor’s degree. We’re talking about a median income that will make your bank account happy.
  2. Specialized Careers: Advanced degrees in areas like medicine, law, or business can lead to important and well-paying jobs. Picture yourself as a surgeon or CEO – sounds impressive, right?
  3. Financial Rewards: There’s a big gap in income between those with advanced degrees and those without. Having that extra degree can put you ahead in earning more money.

Impact of Student Loan Debt

Student loan debt can really shake up your finances and future plans. Picture this: you graduate from college with your diploma and a $22,000 debt tag along. It’s like celebrating your success while carrying a heavy financial backpack. This debt can make it hard to save money, invest, or even dream about buying a house.

Financial ImpactWithout Student LoansWith Student Loans
Ability to SaveHighLow
Investment PotentialSignificantLimited
Major Life DecisionsFlexibleRestricted

If you live in California, you’re not alone. The average student loan debt here is around $22,000 per borrower. It’s like having a costly pet that eats up your paycheck. This debt can slow you down, making progress feel like trudging through mud.

Dealing with student loan debt is key to improving your financial health. It’s like taking off a heavy weight before climbing a mountain. This debt doesn’t just affect you; it can also impact the state’s economy. So, next time someone talks about the perks of college, remember to mention the student loan debt issue.

Job Market Competitiveness

In today’s tough job market, having a college degree really helps you get a stable and well-paying job. It’s like having a special key to unlock better opportunities.

You might wonder, ‘Why get a degree?’ Here’s why:

  1. Higher Earnings: On average, people with a college degree earn more money than those with just a high school diploma.
  2. Better Opportunities: Employers prefer hiring people with degrees. They think, ‘This person knows what they’re doing!’
  3. Long-term Growth: A degree isn’t just a piece of paper; it’s a path to better jobs and personal growth.

Without a degree, you might’ve to fight for low-paying jobs. But with a degree, you have a better chance at good jobs. While some people do well without a degree, for most, it’s a safer bet for a brighter future.

Return on Investment for College

Getting a college degree often pays off quickly. Many graduates start seeing their investment return in just a few years. Imagine just graduating from college and already earning more than your friends who only finished high school. That’s because starting salaries for college graduates are usually higher. Not only are you making more money, but you’re also getting back the money you spent on college faster.

Public colleges can be an especially good deal. Some of them help you recoup your costs in less than three months, which is faster than waiting for the next season of your favorite TV show.

However, you should be cautious about for-profit colleges. They can take nearly 13 years to pay off, which is like going through all of middle school and high school again!

If you’re in California, be extra careful. About 8% of colleges there offer no return on investment at all. So, choose your school carefully and don’t just pick it because it’s in a sunny spot.

Financial aid can be very helpful, making college a worthwhile investment. In fact, 79% of schools show returns in five years or less. So, go ahead, get that degree, and enjoy your new financial freedom!

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is the Salary Difference Between College and No College?

You’ll earn significantly more with a bachelor’s degree. On average, college graduates make $61,196 yearly, while those without make $37,024. That’s a difference of $24,172, showcasing the financial perks of higher education.

What Is the Average Income of Someone Without a College Degree?

If you prefer skipping the college route, you can still earn between $27,040 and $40,248 annually. Higher education, even a diploma or some college, can significantly boost your financial freedom and job security.

What Is the Average Lifetime Earnings College Vs No College?

With a bachelor’s degree, you’ll earn around $2.8 million in your career. Without it, expect about $1.2 million. If freedom means financial security to you, consider the significant earnings difference college can offer.

How Much Money Can You Make Without Going to College?

You can make around $37,024 annually with just a high school diploma. If you take some college classes without graduating, you’ll earn about $40,248. An associate’s degree bumps your earnings to approximately $43,472 per year.


So, should you go to college or not? Granted this article does not discuss trade schools which is a different story.

Well, think of it like this: skipping college is like eating just the bread from a sandwich—you’re missing the juicy stuff.

Sure, student loans are a drag, but in the long game, a degree boosts your wallet.

Plus, you’ll have stories about finals that’ll make your kids laugh.

So, grab that degree and give your future self a high-five. Trust me, it’s worth it!

Sources, Citations and References

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  4. Shrider, Emily A., et al. “Income in the United States: 2021.” U.S. Census Bureau, Sept. 2022,
  5. Carnevale, Anthony P., et al. “The College Payoff: Education, Occupations, Lifetime Earnings.” Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, 2011,
  6. Tamborini, Christopher R., et al. “Education and Lifetime Earnings in the United States.” Social Security Administration, Nov. 2015,
  7. Litow, Stanley S. “Strong Support for Notion That a Bachelor’s Degree Means $1 Million More in Lifetime Earnings.” PolitiFact, 8 Mar. 2023,
  8. Litow, Stanley S. “Do College Graduates Earn $1 Million More over a Lifetime than High School Graduates?” WRAL, 27 Mar. 2023,
  9. Craig, Ryan. “The College Premium Isn’t What Georgetown Says It Is.” Forbes, 1 Dec. 2023,
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