Study Shows Higher Salaries for College Grads

By Howard Schneider
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, March 15, 2007; 10:00 AM

What's school worth?

An extra $27,000 a year for a bachelor's degree, compared to people who did not finish high school. A doctorate is worth another $30,000 on top of that.

That's the latest estimate from the U.S. Census Bureau's annual survey comparing earnings with education levels.

According to the data, the median salary for workers with a four-year college degree in 2005 was $40,166 -- compared to just over $13,000 a year for people who did not complete high school.

Those with a high school degree only had a median income of $21,079; for a two-year associate's degree it was $30,937; for a master's degree it was $51,509; for a doctorate it was $70,165. Those with law, medical and other professional degrees topped the list at $76,497.

Median income means half of the people surveyed earned less than that amount and half earned more.

The annual census survey has documented the steadily rising value of higher education in the U.S. economy, and the steadily widening gap in earnings between those who have completed college and those who have not.

Since 1998, for example, average earnings for those with a bachelor's, doctorate or professional degree have increased by 20 percent, 22 percent, and 18 percent respectively.

Wages for those with a high school diploma, by contrast, rose 14 percent. For those without a high school it rose 7.7 percent.

© 2007 The Washington Post Company