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The least educated county in every state

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Finetooth // Wikimedia Commons

The least educated county in every state

The value of traditional education can vary widely across the country. While a college degree has long been viewed as a critical step toward the American dream, burgeoning costs have led many to reconsider the return-on-investment of higher education. Meanwhile, local economies and individual circumstances can push some toward learning a trade or entering the workforce early.

These considerations aside, the national statistics show a clear difference in earnings as they relate to educational attainment, as college graduates typically earn 65% more than those with only a high school degree.

To help understand areas with the lowest educational attainment, Stacker used data from the 2012–2016 American Community Survey to construct a weighted index which measures the relative education level for every county in the United States. This index evaluates each county’s over-25 population across seven educational tiers, ranging from individuals not educated past eighth grade to those with graduate or professional degrees. For each segment of these tiers, a points-based indexing system was applied in direct proportion to the estimated years of schooling for each level of educational attainment. Lastly, the full range of index scores was normalized to a 0 to 100 scale, with 100 representing the most educated county in the United States.

For each county, we've included supporting educational attainment data as well as how it ranks nationally. Read on to explore the least educated county in every state.

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Rivers Langley // Wikimedia Commons

Alabama: Clay County

- Education index: 74.98
- Less than 9th grade: 12.7%
- 9th to 12th grade, no diploma: 14%
- High school graduate or equivalent: 33.7%
- Some college, no degree: 20.4%
- Associate's degree: 8.9%
- Bachelor's degree: 5.9%
- Graduate or professional degree: 4.3%
- Rank among all counties: #3,025 / 3,142

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Don Becker // Wikimedia Commons

Alaska: Kusilvak Census Area

- Education index: 73.82
- Less than 9th grade: 7.6%
- 9th to 12th grade, no diploma: 14.3%
- High school graduate or equivalent: 52.2%
- Some college, no degree: 18.9%
- Associate's degree: 2.2%
- Bachelor's degree: 3%
- Graduate or professional degree: 1.9%
- Rank among all counties: #3,096 / 3,142

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Ken Lund // Flickr

Arizona: Yuma County

- Education index: 75.84
- Less than 9th grade: 14%
- 9th to 12th grade, no diploma: 14.3%
- High school graduate or equivalent: 26%
- Some college, no degree: 24.2%
- Associate's degree: 7.2%
- Bachelor's degree: 9.2%
- Graduate or professional degree: 5.1%
- Rank among all counties: #2,924 / 3,142

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Thomas R Machnitzki // Wikimedia Commons

Arkansas: Lee County

- Education index: 73.74
- Less than 9th grade: 9.2%
- 9th to 12th grade, no diploma: 20.8%
- High school graduate or equivalent: 39.3%
- Some college, no degree: 17.6%
- Associate's degree: 4.7%
- Bachelor's degree: 5.7%
- Graduate or professional degree: 2.7%
- Rank among all counties: #3,100 / 3,142

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amadscientist // Wikimedia Commons

California: Merced County

- Education index: 74.5
- Less than 9th grade: 19.2%
- 9th to 12th grade, no diploma: 11.9%
- High school graduate or equivalent: 25.1%
- Some college, no degree: 22.8%
- Associate's degree: 7.2%
- Bachelor's degree: 8.9%
- Graduate or professional degree: 4.8%
- Rank among all counties: #3,071 / 3,142

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Billy Hathorn // Wikimedia Commons

Colorado: Bent County

- Education index: 77.26
- Less than 9th grade: 5.8%
- 9th to 12th grade, no diploma: 9.3%
- High school graduate or equivalent: 46.2%
- Some college, no degree: 19.9%
- Associate's degree: 8.6%
- Bachelor's degree: 7%
- Graduate or professional degree: 3.3%
- Rank among all counties: #2,616 / 3,142

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JJBers // Wikimedia Commons

Connecticut: Windham County

- Education index: 82.3
- Less than 9th grade: 3.9%
- 9th to 12th grade, no diploma: 7.7%
- High school graduate or equivalent: 32.7%
- Some college, no degree: 21.6%
- Associate's degree: 9.6%
- Bachelor's degree: 14.8%
- Graduate or professional degree: 9.6%
- Rank among all counties: #940 / 3,142

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Ken Lund // Flickr

Delaware: Kent County

- Education index: 81.83
- Less than 9th grade: 4.1%
- 9th to 12th grade, no diploma: 8.5%
- High school graduate or equivalent: 33.1%
- Some college, no degree: 22.3%
- Associate's degree: 8.5%
- Bachelor's degree: 14.5%
- Graduate or professional degree: 9%
- Rank among all counties: #1,085 / 3,142

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Judy Gallagher // Flickr

Florida: Hendry County

- Education index: 71.99
- Less than 9th grade: 19.8%
- 9th to 12th grade, no diploma: 15%
- High school graduate or equivalent: 33%
- Some college, no degree: 17.4%
- Associate's degree: 6.3%
- Bachelor's degree: 5.3%
- Graduate or professional degree: 3.1%
- Rank among all counties: #3,123 / 3,142

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TampAGS // Wikimedia Commons

Georgia: Taliaferro County

- Education index: 72.15
- Less than 9th grade: 12.6%
- 9th to 12th grade, no diploma: 18.3%
- High school graduate or equivalent: 47.5%
- Some college, no degree: 10.4%
- Associate's degree: 4.4%
- Bachelor's degree: 5.5%
- Graduate or professional degree: 1.3%
- Rank among all counties: #3,122 / 3,142

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karendesuyo // Flickr

Hawaii: Kalawao County

- Education index: 83.01
- Less than 9th grade: 3.8%
- 9th to 12th grade, no diploma: 8.9%
- High school graduate or equivalent: 25.3%
- Some college, no degree: 19%
- Associate's degree: 20.3%
- Bachelor's degree: 13.9%
- Graduate or professional degree: 8.9%
- Rank among all counties: #757 / 3,142

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Kristen Taylor // Wikimedia Commons

Idaho: Clark County

- Education index: 74.73
- Less than 9th grade: 24.2%
- 9th to 12th grade, no diploma: 5.1%
- High school graduate or equivalent: 28.3%
- Some college, no degree: 20.4%
- Associate's degree: 4.9%
- Bachelor's degree: 11.1%
- Graduate or professional degree: 6%
- Rank among all counties: #3,049 / 3,142

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agathman // Wikimedia Commons

Illinois: Alexander County

- Education index: 76.71
- Less than 9th grade: 6.5%
- 9th to 12th grade, no diploma: 15%
- High school graduate or equivalent: 34.7%
- Some college, no degree: 23.2%
- Associate's degree: 9.8%
- Bachelor's degree: 8.1%
- Graduate or professional degree: 2.7%
- Rank among all counties: #2,749 / 3,142

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Nyttend // Wikimedia Commons

Indiana: LaGrange County

- Education index: 70.82
- Less than 9th grade: 28.8%
- 9th to 12th grade, no diploma: 7.8%
- High school graduate or equivalent: 33.5%
- Some college, no degree: 14.1%
- Associate's degree: 5.9%
- Bachelor's degree: 7%
- Graduate or professional degree: 2.9%
- Rank among all counties: #3,136 / 3,142

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Jared Winkler // Wikimedia Commons

Iowa: Crawford County

- Education index: 76.42
- Less than 9th grade: 12.1%
- 9th to 12th grade, no diploma: 9.2%
- High school graduate or equivalent: 36.8%
- Some college, no degree: 19.7%
- Associate's degree: 9.3%
- Bachelor's degree: 10%
- Graduate or professional degree: 3%
- Rank among all counties: #2,809 / 3,142

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Billy Hathorn // Wikimedia Commons

Kansas: Seward County

- Education index: 73.73
- Less than 9th grade: 19.4%
- 9th to 12th grade, no diploma: 13.4%
- High school graduate or equivalent: 26.7%
- Some college, no degree: 19.8%
- Associate's degree: 8.6%
- Bachelor's degree: 8.9%
- Graduate or professional degree: 3.2%
- Rank among all counties: #3,102 / 3,142

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Nyttend // Wikimedia Commons

Kentucky: Clay County

- Education index: 71.89
- Less than 9th grade: 19.7%
- 9th to 12th grade, no diploma: 17.3%
- High school graduate or equivalent: 33.2%
- Some college, no degree: 16.2%
- Associate's degree: 4.1%
- Bachelor's degree: 5.1%
- Graduate or professional degree: 4.4%
- Rank among all counties: #3,125 / 3,142

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Billy Hathorn // Wikimedia Commons

Louisiana: East Carroll Parish

- Education index: 74.3
- Less than 9th grade: 5.8%
- 9th to 12th grade, no diploma: 23.7%
- High school graduate or equivalent: 39.3%
- Some college, no degree: 17.8%
- Associate's degree: 3.6%
- Bachelor's degree: 7.4%
- Graduate or professional degree: 2.3%
- Rank among all counties: #3,081 / 3,142

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Halpaugh // Wikimedia Commons

Maine: Somerset County

- Education index: 79.89
- Less than 9th grade: 3.4%
- 9th to 12th grade, no diploma: 8.8%
- High school graduate or equivalent: 40.2%
- Some college, no degree: 18.8%
- Associate's degree: 12.1%
- Bachelor's degree: 11.8%
- Graduate or professional degree: 4.8%
- Rank among all counties: #1,822 / 3,142

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Acroterion // Wikimedia Commons

Maryland: Somerset County

- Education index: 77.89
- Less than 9th grade: 5.1%
- 9th to 12th grade, no diploma: 13.1%
- High school graduate or equivalent: 42.1%
- Some college, no degree: 20.2%
- Associate's degree: 5.2%
- Bachelor's degree: 9.5%
- Graduate or professional degree: 5%
- Rank among all counties: #2,441 / 3,142

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Marc N. Belanger // Wikimedia Commons

Massachusetts: Bristol County

- Education index: 81.74
- Less than 9th grade: 8.3%
- 9th to 12th grade, no diploma: 7.4%
- High school graduate or equivalent: 29.8%
- Some college, no degree: 18%
- Associate's degree: 9.1%
- Bachelor's degree: 17.2%
- Graduate or professional degree: 10.1%
- Rank among all counties: #1,127 / 3,142

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rossograph // Wikimedia Commons

Michigan: Oscoda County

- Education index: 77.4
- Less than 9th grade: 5.5%
- 9th to 12th grade, no diploma: 11.7%
- High school graduate or equivalent: 39.4%
- Some college, no degree: 25.5%
- Associate's degree: 7.1%
- Bachelor's degree: 7.2%
- Graduate or professional degree: 3.7%
- Rank among all counties: #2,581 / 3,142

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Jonathunder // Wikimedia Commons

Minnesota: Nobles County

- Education index: 76.5
- Less than 9th grade: 14.1%
- 9th to 12th grade, no diploma: 9.6%
- High school graduate or equivalent: 32.3%
- Some college, no degree: 19.7%
- Associate's degree: 9.9%
- Bachelor's degree: 10%
- Graduate or professional degree: 4.5%
- Rank among all counties: #2,787 / 3,142

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Mississippi Department of Archives and History

Mississippi: Issaquena County

- Education index: 72.27
- Less than 9th grade: 10.8%
- 9th to 12th grade, no diploma: 23.6%
- High school graduate or equivalent: 38.2%
- Some college, no degree: 20.1%
- Associate's degree: 1.2%
- Bachelor's degree: 2.4%
- Graduate or professional degree: 3.7%
- Rank among all counties: #3,121 / 3,142

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Riffsyphon1024 // Wikimedia Commona

Missouri: Mississippi County

- Education index: 74.92
- Less than 9th grade: 10.1%
- 9th to 12th grade, no diploma: 15.5%
- High school graduate or equivalent: 39.7%
- Some college, no degree: 19.4%
- Associate's degree: 3.8%
- Bachelor's degree: 8.1%
- Graduate or professional degree: 3.3%
- Rank among all counties: #3,029 / 3,142

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Idaho National Laboratory // Flickr

Montana: Wheatland County

- Education index: 75.87
- Less than 9th grade: 16%
- 9th to 12th grade, no diploma: 8.8%
- High school graduate or equivalent: 32.7%
- Some college, no degree: 22.7%
- Associate's degree: 1.9%
- Bachelor's degree: 14.3%
- Graduate or professional degree: 3.5%
- Rank among all counties: #2,907 / 3,142

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Ammodramus // Wikimedia Commons

Nebraska: Dakota County

- Education index: 74.58
- Less than 9th grade: 18.2%
- 9th to 12th grade, no diploma: 8.3%
- High school graduate or equivalent: 35%
- Some college, no degree: 18.9%
- Associate's degree: 6.9%
- Bachelor's degree: 8.3%
- Graduate or professional degree: 4.3%
- Rank among all counties: #3,067 / 3,142

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Monacat // Wikimedia Commons

Nevada: Pershing County

- Education index: 77.72
- Less than 9th grade: 8.5%
- 9th to 12th grade, no diploma: 10.6%
- High school graduate or equivalent: 35.3%
- Some college, no degree: 24.3%
- Associate's degree: 7.6%
- Bachelor's degree: 7.4%
- Graduate or professional degree: 6.3%
- Rank among all counties: #2,500 / 3,142

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P199 // Wikimedia Commons

New Hampshire: Coos County

- Education index: 80.39
- Less than 9th grade: 3.6%
- 9th to 12th grade, no diploma: 8.1%
- High school graduate or equivalent: 40.1%
- Some college, no degree: 19.5%
- Associate's degree: 10.4%
- Bachelor's degree: 12.4%
- Graduate or professional degree: 5.9%
- Rank among all counties: #1,649 / 3,142

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Smallbones // Wikimedia Commons

New Jersey: Cumberland County

- Education index: 76.66
- Less than 9th grade: 9.5%
- 9th to 12th grade, no diploma: 12.7%
- High school graduate or equivalent: 39.2%
- Some college, no degree: 17.8%
- Associate's degree: 6.6%
- Bachelor's degree: 10%
- Graduate or professional degree: 4.3%
- Rank among all counties: #2,761 / 3,142

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Allen S // Wikimedia Commons

New Mexico: Luna County

- Education index: 74.13
- Less than 9th grade: 18%
- 9th to 12th grade, no diploma: 15%
- High school graduate or equivalent: 30.6%
- Some college, no degree: 16.2%
- Associate's degree: 6.1%
- Bachelor's degree: 8.6%
- Graduate or professional degree: 5.5%
- Rank among all counties: #3,086 / 3,142

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TiernyMJ // Shutterstock

New York: Bronx County

- Education index: 76.8
- Less than 9th grade: 14.5%
- 9th to 12th grade, no diploma: 14%
- High school graduate or equivalent: 27.6%
- Some college, no degree: 17.5%
- Associate's degree: 7%
- Bachelor's degree: 12.5%
- Graduate or professional degree: 6.9%
- Rank among all counties: #2,726 / 3,142

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HarmonyReignPope // Wikimedia Comons

North Carolina: Tyrrell County

- Education index: 74.58
- Less than 9th grade: 7.1%
- 9th to 12th grade, no diploma: 18.4%
- High school graduate or equivalent: 41.8%
- Some college, no degree: 18.7%
- Associate's degree: 6.3%
- Bachelor's degree: 4.7%
- Graduate or professional degree: 2.9%
- Rank among all counties: #3,067 / 3,142

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Rex Sorgatz // Wikimedia Commons

North Dakota: Logan County

- Education index: 77.49
- Less than 9th grade: 10.9%
- 9th to 12th grade, no diploma: 4.6%
- High school graduate or equivalent: 39%
- Some college, no degree: 20.9%
- Associate's degree: 11%
- Bachelor's degree: 11.9%
- Graduate or professional degree: 1.7%
- Rank among all counties: #2,562 / 3,142

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Roseohioresident // Wikimedia Commons

Ohio: Holmes County

- Education index: 68.65
- Less than 9th grade: 34.7%
- 9th to 12th grade, no diploma: 7.1%
- High school graduate or equivalent: 35.2%
- Some college, no degree: 10.6%
- Associate's degree: 4%
- Bachelor's degree: 6.1%
- Graduate or professional degree: 2.4%
- Rank among all counties: #3,139 / 3,142

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Ammodramus // Wikimedia Commons

Oklahoma: Texas County

- Education index: 76.21
- Less than 9th grade: 17.3%
- 9th to 12th grade, no diploma: 11.5%
- High school graduate or equivalent: 28%
- Some college, no degree: 19.3%
- Associate's degree: 3.1%
- Bachelor's degree: 14.5%
- Graduate or professional degree: 6.2%
- Rank among all counties: #2,843 / 3,142

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Finetooth // Wikimedia Commons

Oregon: Morrow County

- Education index: 75.54
- Less than 9th grade: 9.5%
- 9th to 12th grade, no diploma: 15.2%
- High school graduate or equivalent: 33.9%
- Some college, no degree: 23%
- Associate's degree: 8.7%
- Bachelor's degree: 7.7%
- Graduate or professional degree: 2.1%
- Rank among all counties: #2,967 / 3,142

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Nyttend // Wikimedia Commons

Pennsylvania: Forest County

- Education index: 75.03
- Less than 9th grade: 4.1%
- 9th to 12th grade, no diploma: 16%
- High school graduate or equivalent: 54.9%
- Some college, no degree: 14.1%
- Associate's degree: 3.9%
- Bachelor's degree: 4.5%
- Graduate or professional degree: 2.6%
- Rank among all counties: #3,023 / 3,142

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Will Hart // Wikimedia Commons

Rhode Island: Providence County

- Education index: 81.88
- Less than 9th grade: 7.6%
- 9th to 12th grade, no diploma: 8.6%
- High school graduate or equivalent: 30.2%
- Some college, no degree: 18.1%
- Associate's degree: 7.7%
- Bachelor's degree: 17%
- Graduate or professional degree: 10.8%
- Rank among all counties: #1,065 / 3,142

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Upstateherd // Wikimedia Commons

South Carolina: Allendale County

- Education index: 74.6
- Less than 9th grade: 11.1%
- 9th to 12th grade, no diploma: 14.7%
- High school graduate or equivalent: 40.1%
- Some college, no degree: 16.9%
- Associate's degree: 7.8%
- Bachelor's degree: 6.8%
- Graduate or professional degree: 2.6%
- Rank among all counties: #3,064 / 3,142

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Harry Weddington // Wikimedia Commons

South Dakota: Buffalo County

- Education index: 75.86
- Less than 9th grade: 5.8%
- 9th to 12th grade, no diploma: 15.7%
- High school graduate or equivalent: 39.9%
- Some college, no degree: 22.3%
- Associate's degree: 7.3%
- Bachelor's degree: 7.3%
- Graduate or professional degree: 1.7%
- Rank among all counties: #2,917 / 3,142

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Brian Stansberry // Wikimedia Commons

Tennessee: Pickett County

- Education index: 73.8
- Less than 9th grade: 13.2%
- 9th to 12th grade, no diploma: 12.9%
- High school graduate or equivalent: 40.9%
- Some college, no degree: 17.4%
- Associate's degree: 8.6%
- Bachelor's degree: 4.7%
- Graduate or professional degree: 2.3%
- Rank among all counties: #3,097 / 3,142

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25or6to4 // Wikimedia Commons

Texas: Kenedy County

- Education index: 66.63
- Less than 9th grade: 25.8%
- 9th to 12th grade, no diploma: 32.8%
- High school graduate or equivalent: 26.1%
- Some college, no degree: 6.5%
- Associate's degree: 2.3%
- Bachelor's degree: 3.2%
- Graduate or professional degree: 3.2%
- Rank among all counties: #3,142 / 3,142

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Bridget Calip // Shutterstock

Utah: Uintah County

- Education index: 79.12
- Less than 9th grade: 3.2%
- 9th to 12th grade, no diploma: 10.9%
- High school graduate or equivalent: 35.1%
- Some college, no degree: 29.1%
- Associate's degree: 7.4%
- Bachelor's degree: 10.4%
- Graduate or professional degree: 3.9%
- Rank among all counties: #2,086 / 3,142

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Doug Kerr // Wikimedia Commons

Vermont: Essex County

- Education index: 78.39
- Less than 9th grade: 6.5%
- 9th to 12th grade, no diploma: 8.7%
- High school graduate or equivalent: 45.9%
- Some college, no degree: 13.9%
- Associate's degree: 10.4%
- Bachelor's degree: 9.1%
- Graduate or professional degree: 5.6%
- Rank among all counties: #2,298 / 3,142

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SheepNotGoats // Wikimedia Commons

Virginia: Buchanan County

- Education index: 74.34
- Less than 9th grade: 14.2%
- 9th to 12th grade, no diploma: 14.2%
- High school graduate or equivalent: 36.4%
- Some college, no degree: 17.8%
- Associate's degree: 6.6%
- Bachelor's degree: 6.7%
- Graduate or professional degree: 4.1%
- Rank among all counties: #3,079 / 3,142

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Joe Mabel // Wikimedia Commons

Washington: Adams County

- Education index: 73.34
- Less than 9th grade: 23.3%
- 9th to 12th grade, no diploma: 11.4%
- High school graduate or equivalent: 26%
- Some college, no degree: 17.8%
- Associate's degree: 7.9%
- Bachelor's degree: 9%
- Graduate or professional degree: 4.6%
- Rank among all counties: #3,106 / 3,142

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Coal town guy // Wikimedia Commons

West Virginia: McDowell County

- Education index: 71.11
- Less than 9th grade: 14.5%
- 9th to 12th grade, no diploma: 20.2%
- High school graduate or equivalent: 44.6%
- Some college, no degree: 12.7%
- Associate's degree: 3.2%
- Bachelor's degree: 3%
- Graduate or professional degree: 1.9%
- Rank among all counties: #3,133 / 3,142

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TheCatalyst31 // Wikimedia Commons

Wisconsin: Clark County

- Education index: 76.41
- Less than 9th grade: 11.2%
- 9th to 12th grade, no diploma: 6.7%
- High school graduate or equivalent: 42.8%
- Some college, no degree: 18.8%
- Associate's degree: 9.1%
- Bachelor's degree: 8.3%
- Graduate or professional degree: 3.1%
- Rank among all counties: #2,812 / 3,142

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Johnny Adolphson // Wikimedia Commons

Wyoming: Uinta County

- Education index: 81.15
- Less than 9th grade: 2.3%
- 9th to 12th grade, no diploma: 5.9%
- High school graduate or equivalent: 37.4%
- Some college, no degree: 26.7%
- Associate's degree: 10.3%
- Bachelor's degree: 11.9%
- Graduate or professional degree: 5.5%
- Rank among all counties: #1,358 / 3,142

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