External Affairs Division

University System of Georgia graduates will earn over $1 million more during their lifetimes

Atlanta — August 22, 2022

Graduates from the Class of 2021 will earn over $1 million more during their lifetimes than they would have without going to college, and earning their bachelor’s degree, according to a new University System of Georgia (USG) study.

Conducted on behalf of USG by Jeffrey M. Humphreys, Ph.D., director of the Selig Center for Economic Growth in the University of Georgia’s Terry College of Business, the study revealed the breakdown of how much each level of higher education can add to a USG graduate’s total earnings over the course of their lives.

“The difference higher education makes on a person’s life is dramatic,” said USG Chancellor Sonny Perdue. “Whether you are a high school graduate trying to decide between going to college or entering the workforce, or you are a mid-career adult wanting to improve your earning potential by completing your degree or adding to your education, this study clearly demonstrates a college degree in Georgia is a worthwhile investment.”

Perdue announced at the August 9 Board of Regents meeting the creation of a new website, Georgia Degrees Pay, where students and their families can glean comparative information on schools, majors, academic outcomes, costs and future earnings. The future earnings tool allows users to see earnings after graduation by major and institution. It also compares a range of earnings by academic area one, five and 10 years after graduation.

The new lifetime earnings report offers additional evidence about how earnings increase substantially with each step up in earned degree. On average, each credential generates additional earnings over a person’s lifetime by…

  • Certificate: +$238,455
  • Associate degree: +$377,000
  • Bachelor’s degree: +$1,152,500
  • Master’s degree: +$1,399,500
  • Professional degree: +$2,167,500
  • Ph.D.: +$2,037,500

Based on work-life earnings estimates for Georgia, the analysis showed that the 70,641 USG graduates from the Class of 2021 can expect combined total lifetime earnings of $179 billion, which is $60 billion more than they could expect to earn had they not gone on to college or graduate school.

That means altogether, the collective worth of the degrees granted by USG is $60 billion.

The study shows graduates with at least a bachelor’s degree will earn over $1 million more throughout their lives. If factoring in less-than-four-year degrees, the average amount of extra earnings is $845,341.

The average increase in lifetime earnings fluctuates year-to-year for each graduating class depending on how many bachelor’s degrees are awarded compared to the other degree categories. Bachelor’s degrees have the greatest impact on lifetime earnings.

“The economic worth of a college education over the course of a graduate’s working life is considerable,” the study stated. The full lifetime earnings report is available at USG’s website.

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