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States with the most graduate degree holders

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States with the most graduate degree holders

To some college graduates of a certain age, it can seem like everyone eventually goes back to school to get their master’s degree in something. The sheer volume of LinkedIn updates and Facebook posts from acquaintances who have been accepted to a new graduate program can make higher education seem commonplace. That may be the case for some social circles, but in reality, the number of Americans with graduate degrees is smaller than some might think. Just 12.6% of Americans 25 or older hold a graduate degree, according to the Census Bureau.

Of course, that percentage varies wildly from state to state. Regions with many prestigious colleges and universities tend to have more graduate degree holders, while it’s more common to stop school after your high school diploma in traditionally rural or agrarian communities. To discover which states have the highest number of highly educated residents, Stacker consulted the 2018 American Community Survey from the Census Bureau and compiled a list of states with the most graduate degree holders using the one-year estimates in that data. All 50 states and the District of Columbia were then ranked by the percentage of residents 25 years or older with a graduate or professional degree. The percentage of residents with a bachelor’s degree, some college, high school diploma, and less than a high school diploma were also included, as well as the median income level for each degree.

Whether you’re gearing up to apply to graduate school or have vowed never to take an aptitude test again, it’s eye-opening to see just how widely higher education levels vary across the United States. Keep reading to discover which East Coast state has the highest number of graduate degree holders nationwide and find out where your state falls on the spectrum.

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#51. North Dakota

- Graduate or professional degree: 7.6% of residents 25 years and over ($64,310 median income)
- Bachelor's degree: 22.1% ($50,976)
- Some college or associate degree: 36.8% ($42,018)
- High school diploma: 25.9% ($36,576)
- Less than high school diploma: 7.7% ($29,625)

With just 7.6% of North Dakota residents earning a graduate or professional degree, this Midwest state has the lowest level of graduate education in the United States. The state’s relatively small population combined with the fact that only 14 colleges sit within its borders—with just six schools offering graduate programs—likely led to its low ranking.

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#50. Louisiana

- Graduate or professional degree: 8.4% of residents 25 years and over ($57,058 median income)
- Bachelor's degree: 15.9% ($50,273)
- Some college or associate degree: 27.3% ($35,199)
- High school diploma: 34.3% ($29,383)
- Less than high school diploma: 14.2% ($21,282)

Part of the reason Louisiana counts so few graduate degree holders among its residents could be from the relatively low difference in income between college graduates and people with a master’s degree or higher. The state also struggles with low retention rates for college graduates, which have been connected to negative perceptions of employment opportunities, quality of life, and government corruption.

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#49. West Virginia

- Graduate or professional degree: 8.5% of residents 25 years and over ($55,120 median income)
- Bachelor's degree: 12.8% ($41,804)
- Some college or associate degree: 26.8% ($31,250)
- High school diploma: 39.7% ($30,250)
- Less than high school diploma: 12.2% ($24,872)

With 21 universities within its borders, West Virginia does not have a high level of graduate degree holders among its citizens. Nearly 40% of all West Virginia residents stopped their education after high school.

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#48. Arkansas

- Graduate or professional degree: 8.6% of residents 25 years and over ($61,185 median income)
- Bachelor's degree: 14.7% ($46,919)
- Some college or associate degree: 29.9% ($32,401)
- High school diploma: 34% ($29,805)
- Less than high school diploma: 12.8% ($23,899)

Arkansas has 22 colleges and universities for prospective students to choose from, and less than a quarter of all Arkansas residents progressed beyond an associate degree. The state has been accused of cutting off support for higher education and instead focusing on K-12 education. The result has been lower-paying jobs that don’t incentivize additional degrees.

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#47. Nevada

- Graduate or professional degree: 8.7% of residents 25 years and over ($67,845 median income)
- Bachelor's degree: 16.2% ($48,779)
- Some college or associate degree: 34.3% ($38,018)
- High school diploma: 27.7% ($32,039)
- Less than high school diploma: 13.1% ($28,814)

Nevada has just eight four-year colleges and universities in the state, and just 8.7% of residents earn a graduate or professional degree. The state has ramped up its efforts to improve access to education in recent years, increasing its per-capita spending on higher education by more than 30% since 2015.

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#46. Mississippi

- Graduate or professional degree: 8.8% of residents 25 years and over ($55,339 median income)
- Bachelor's degree: 14.4% ($42,497)
- Some college or associate degree: 32.4% ($31,695)
- High school diploma: 29.8% ($27,238)
- Less than high school diploma: 14.6% ($21,680)

Mississippi’s high-school graduation rates are above the national average, and nearly a third of its residents pursue an associate degree or some college education. But just 14% earn a bachelor’s degree and 8.8% earn a graduate or professional degree—the latter of which are rewarded with more than a $10,000 boost in their median income. Mississippi came in last in a January 2020 Wallethub ranking of most educated states.

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Michael Barera // Wikimedia Commons

#45. Oklahoma

- Graduate or professional degree: 9% of residents 25 years and over ($58,154 median income)
- Bachelor's degree: 16.7% ($46,162)
- Some college or associate degree: 31.5% ($34,382)
- High school diploma: 31.3% ($30,193)
- Less than high school diploma: 11.6% ($24,881)

Oklahoma’s government spending on higher education dropped by 26% since 2009, according to the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education. The state from 2012 to 2017 had the most drastic cuts in higher-education spending anywhere in the U.S.

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#44. Idaho

- Graduate or professional degree: 9% of residents 25 years and over ($61,876 median income)
- Bachelor's degree: 18.7% ($44,469)
- Some college or associate degree: 35.4% ($32,871)
- High school diploma: 27.8% ($30,790)
- Less than high school diploma: 9.1% ($26,050)

In November 2019, Idaho enacted a statewide freeze on tuition costs for undergraduate college and university students at four-year institutions within the state. That, paired with budget cuts, is stressing an already scarce higher education budget expected to reach a $22 million shortfall within a few years.

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#43. South Dakota

- Graduate or professional degree: 9% of residents 25 years and over ($56,641 median income)
- Bachelor's degree: 20.2% ($45,177)
- Some college or associate degree: 32% ($35,984)
- High school diploma: 31% ($31,037)
- Less than high school diploma: 7.7% ($24,899)

Enrollment at South Dakota’s six public universities has dropped by 5% since 2010, according to reporting from the Rapid City Journal. Meanwhile, resident enrollment in the last decade fell by 17%. That puts a distinct barrier before potential graduate-degree holders, which comprise just 9% of the state’s residents 25 and older.

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#42. Iowa

- Graduate or professional degree: 9.4% of residents 25 years and over ($67,140 median income)
- Bachelor's degree: 19.6% ($51,620)
- Some college or associate degree: 32.4% ($36,699)
- High school diploma: 30.8% ($32,367)
- Less than high school diploma: 7.7% ($29,980)

Agriculture is such a big part of the economy in Iowa, it’s known as the Corn State. Though many of the top colleges and universities offer agricultural studies or management programs, Since 2013, Iowa cut funding for higher education by more than $180 billion. To compensate for the shortfall, tuition rates have risen—potentially contributing to the fact that more than 30% of Iowans stop school after high school graduation.

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#41. Alabama

- Graduate or professional degree: 9.5% of residents 25 years and over ($61,177 median income)
- Bachelor's degree: 16.1% ($50,081)
- Some college or associate degree: 30.3% ($32,826)
- High school diploma: 30.8% ($29,436)
- Less than high school diploma: 13.4% ($22,738)

A nearly equal number of Alabamans—just over 30%—earn a high school diploma, or go on to some college or an associate degree. Although the median income for graduate degree holders is more than $10,000 above that of bachelor’s degree holders, just under 10% of Alabamans pursue graduate education. That may change, as the state in 2019 approved a record-setting $7.1 billion education budget that increased funding for Alabama’s four-year universities by at least 5%. More statewide funding means fewer out-of-pocket expenses for students—and less money owed opens up possibilities for pursuing graduate degrees after college.

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#40. Indiana

- Graduate or professional degree: 9.8% of residents 25 years and over ($62,726 median income)
- Bachelor's degree: 17.3% ($49,851)
- Some college or associate degree: 28.8% ($36,435)
- High school diploma: 33.1% ($32,171)
- Less than high school diploma: 11% ($25,560)

The Indiana University Kelley School of Business in January 2020 earned the top spot in U.S. News’ ranking of online MBA programs for the second year in a row. That same month, the Indiana House passed a massive $291 million surplus spending bill to fund onetime projects in higher education. These projects include $73 million for the teaching hospital at the Purdue College of Veterinary Medicine and $30 million for the replacement of the main building at Ivy Tech Columbus.

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#39. Wyoming

- Graduate or professional degree: 10% of residents 25 years and over ($57,555 median income)
- Bachelor's degree: 16.9% ($47,980)
- Some college or associate degree: 37.6% ($35,766)
- High school diploma: 28.8% ($35,160)
- Less than high school diploma: 6.7% ($25,838)

Wyoming is the first state on this list to crack the 10% mark for graduate degree holders. Moreover, the largest percentage of Wyoming residents—37.6%—have at least some college education, which indicates the popularity of higher learning may be on the rise. Wyoming is on track in 2020 to invest $673 per capita on higher education: more than any other state in the country, according to Grapevine data.

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#38. Tennessee

- Graduate or professional degree: 10.2% of residents 25 years and over ($61,543 median income)
- Bachelor's degree: 17.3% ($48,256)
- Some college or associate degree: 28.5% ($33,760)
- High school diploma: 31.8% ($30,074)
- Less than high school diploma: 12.2% ($22,122)

In Tennessee, more people stop their education after high school than go on to any higher education level. More than 28% of them pursue an associate degree or some college, but just 17% and 10% earn a bachelor’s or graduate degree, respectively. In recent years, at least 30% of Tennessee Promise scholarship students were hampered by cumbersome verification processes, according to information provided to the Tennessean by Mike Krause, executive director of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission. To remove barriers to undergraduate and graduate financial aid requires streamlining application processes. That change may finally be coming, with federal legislation passed in December 2020 called the FUTURE Act. That law simplifies FAFSA applications and allocates more federal funds for historically black colleges and universities.

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#37. Kentucky

- Graduate or professional degree: 10.3% of residents 25 years and over ($56,623 median income)
- Bachelor's degree: 14.5% ($50,146)
- Some college or associate degree: 29.4% ($34,070)
- High school diploma: 32.6% ($30,213)
- Less than high school diploma: 13.2% ($21,639)

Cuts by the state of Kentucky to its higher education system are among the most significant in the country, transferring costs to students and making undergraduate and graduate degrees less attainable for the population there. The cuts exacerbate an already acute issue of too few publicly funded colleges or universities to choose from, as most schools here are private schools or liberal arts colleges. Still, only 14.5% of residents earn a bachelor’s degree and 10.3% earn a graduate degree. Adjusted for inflation, Kentucky in 2018 spent $2,792 less per student than in 2008, according to a 2019 report from the nonpartisan Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in Washington D.C.

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#36. South Carolina

- Graduate or professional degree: 10.4% of residents 25 years and over ($58,079 median income)
- Bachelor's degree: 18% ($49,131)
- Some college or associate degree: 30.2% ($32,980)
- High school diploma: 29.9% ($27,686)
- Less than high school diploma: 11.6% ($21,180)

The average net price of attendance at a four-year public university costs 36% of median household income in South Carolina, according to the 2017 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates. The state was ranked 44th out of 50 of WalletHub’s January 2020 rankings of most and least educated states, with 50 representing the least educated state in the country.

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#35. Wisconsin

- Graduate or professional degree: 10.6% of residents 25 years and over ($65,974 median income)
- Bachelor's degree: 19.4% ($51,879)
- Some college or associate degree: 31.5% ($38,747)
- High school diploma: 30.6% ($32,708)
- Less than high school diploma: 7.9% ($28,345)

Of Wisconsin’s 13 public four-year campuses, eight in October 2019 reported a collective 25% drop in enrollment from the year prior, according to reporting from the Wisconsin State Journal. UW-Madison’s Applied Population Lab found that Wisconsin public and private school graduates in the spring of 2020 will be at the lowest numbers since the 1999-2000 school year.

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#34. Texas

- Graduate or professional degree: 10.7% of residents 25 years and over ($71,167 median income)
- Bachelor's degree: 19.6% ($55,437)
- Some college or associate degree: 28.6% ($37,027)
- High school diploma: 25% ($30,804)
- Less than high school diploma: 16% ($24,047)

International graduate program applicants in Texas in 2018 fell for the second year in a row, marking a 25% decrease since President Trump took office, the Dallas News reported. Some have attributed the drop to hampered work opportunities post-graduation for non-citizen applicants.

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#33. Montana

- Graduate or professional degree: 11% of residents 25 years and over ($56,959 median income)
- Bachelor's degree: 20.7% ($42,224)
- Some college or associate degree: 34.2% ($31,601)
- High school diploma: 27.9% ($27,583)
- Less than high school diploma: 6.1% ($20,339)

Although Montana only boasts 10 colleges and universities in total, 11% of its residents do eventually earn a graduate or professional degree. Agriculture is one of the largest industries here, and universities mirror that focus by offering programs in wildlife studies and related fields.

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#32. Nebraska

- Graduate or professional degree: 11.1% of residents 25 years and over ($62,451 median income)
- Bachelor's degree: 21.3% ($50,032)
- Some college or associate degree: 33.2% ($36,808)
- High school diploma: 25.8% ($30,587)
- Less than high school diploma: 8.6% ($29,051)

Some of Nebraska’s most prominent universities—like the University of Nebraska–Lincoln and Nebraska Wesleyan University—are located in Lincoln, Nebraska’s capital city. The state came in 23rd out of 50 for WalletHub’s rankings of most educated states in 2020.

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#31. Ohio

- Graduate or professional degree: 11.1% of residents 25 years and over ($67,945 median income)
- Bachelor's degree: 17.8% ($52,613)
- Some college or associate degree: 29% ($35,933)
- High school diploma: 32.7% ($31,372)
- Less than high school diploma: 9.3% ($22,929)

Kentucky since 2015 has had a 1.9% drop in funding for universities and colleges in the state, according to 2020 data from Grapevine. With a performance-based model in place for undergraduate and graduate funding throughout the state, increasingly limited available money exacerbates opportunities for low-income students to pursue higher education.

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#30. Arizona

- Graduate or professional degree: 11.2% of residents 25 years and over ($66,004 median income)
- Bachelor's degree: 18.6% ($51,576)
- Some college or associate degree: 33.8% ($36,486)
- High school diploma: 24% ($30,617)
- Less than high school diploma: 12.5% ($23,893)

Since its formation five years ago, the University of Arizona’s online bachelor’s education program has risen to #11 in a ranking of 353 online programs by a January 2020 U.S. News & World Report, representing an 18-spot leap from 2019 and 70% rise since the university first made the rankings in 2017. The school’s online graduate degree programs have also improved their standings, including information technology programs climbing to #3 for programs in the U.S. and #1 in public universities.

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#29. Florida

- Graduate or professional degree: 11.3% of residents 25 years and over ($61,748 median income)
- Bachelor's degree: 19.1% ($46,380)
- Some college or associate degree: 29.4% ($33,334)
- High school diploma: 28.7% ($27,900)
- Less than high school diploma: 11.5% ($22,097)

A Jan. 13, 2020, rally at the Old Florida Capitol called for better pay at the state’s public schools for educators and employees. But while much of the focus was on elementary, middle, and high school, speakers at the event brought up insufficient pay at the graduate level for Florida teachers, as well. A lack of education funding throughout Florida has squeezed salaries even while officials have promised improvements. Nearly half of all Florida residents have either a bachelor’s degree or some college experience, but the number of graduate degree holders still hovers around 11%.

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#28. North Carolina

- Graduate or professional degree: 11.4% of residents 25 years and over ($62,888 median income)
- Bachelor's degree: 20.5% ($49,295)
- Some college or associate degree: 30.9% ($33,982)
- High school diploma: 25.4% ($28,401)
- Less than high school diploma: 11.8% ($22,784)

An impasse between North Carolina’s General Assembly and Gov. Roy Cooper has stalled approval of a state budget that would fund close to $800 million in higher education projects. The University of North Carolina System’s board voted unanimously in January 2020 on a resolution calling for a quick approval for that budget. Just over 11% of all state residents get a graduate degree.

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John Phelan // Wikipedia

#27. Maine

- Graduate or professional degree: 11.4% of residents 25 years and over ($60,013 median income)
- Bachelor's degree: 20.1% ($43,809)
- Some college or associate degree: 30.1% ($36,221)
- High school diploma: 31.4% ($30,726)
- Less than high school diploma: 7% ($25,581)

Like the state itself, most of the colleges and universities in Maine have a relatively low population: 10,000 undergraduates or fewer is typical. Although only 11.4% of Mainers end up earning a graduate degree, those who do make a median income that’s almost double that of someone with a high school diploma alone.

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#26. Missouri

- Graduate or professional degree: 11.5% of residents 25 years and over ($61,244 median income)
- Bachelor's degree: 18% ($50,659)
- Some college or associate degree: 30.6% ($34,718)
- High school diploma: 30.4% ($30,417)
- Less than high school diploma: 9.5% ($24,461)

Missouri boasts more than 50 colleges and universities, but still falls in the bottom half of states for residents with graduate degrees. Just over 11% of Missouri residents over age 25 earn a degree at the graduate or professional level. The state has worked on resolutions to improve those numbers, with 15% more graduates of Missouri colleges and universities since 2011.

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#25. Hawaii

- Graduate or professional degree: 11.5% of residents 25 years and over ($69,668 median income)
- Bachelor's degree: 22% ($50,463)
- Some college or associate degree: 31.7% ($40,013)
- High school diploma: 26.8% ($35,307)
- Less than high school diploma: 8% ($26,337)

This island state has just seven colleges and universities but still ranks above half of the United States in the number of residents with graduate degrees. Getting there comes with a hefty price tag: The state outspends all others on higher education, investing $537.05 per person. The state’s overall population declined between 2013 and 2017, with correlations apparent between education level and likelihood of staying in Hawaii, according to a study by Hawaii’s state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism there. Hawaii residents with undergraduate and graduate degrees were found to move out of the state in larger numbers than those with a high school diploma or less.

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#24. Michigan

- Graduate or professional degree: 11.5% of residents 25 years and over ($71,057 median income)
- Bachelor's degree: 18% ($52,352)
- Some college or associate degree: 32.8% ($35,414)
- High school diploma: 28.7% ($30,274)
- Less than high school diploma: 8.9% ($22,405)

WalletHub ranked Michigan in 2020 as the 28th-most educated state. Michigan has 104 colleges and universities, 46 of which are public. College graduates throughout the state have on average $29,450 in student loan debt: the ninth-highest average nationally.

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#23. Alaska

- Graduate or professional degree: 11.7% of residents 25 years and over ($77,402 median income)
- Bachelor's degree: 18.5% ($57,708)
- Some college or associate degree: 34.9% ($44,619)
- High school diploma: 28.3% ($35,328)
- Less than high school diploma: 6.7% ($25,840)

Alaska has one of the smallest populations in the country, so it’s not surprising that this isolated state has only four colleges and universities within its borders. To contend with an expansive 41% cut to education funding in the state, the University of Alaska system in August 2019 put together a plan to merge its three accredited universities. The plan was rejected by the university’s Board of Regents in December that year.

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#22. New Mexico

- Graduate or professional degree: 12% of residents 25 years and over ($61,635 median income)
- Bachelor's degree: 15.7% ($45,861)
- Some college or associate degree: 31.6% ($30,800)
- High school diploma: 26.1% ($26,953)
- Less than high school diploma: 14.6% ($20,626)

To incentivize more students to pursue higher education, New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham in September 2019 proposed a “ New Mexico Opportunity Scholarship” for students maintaining a certain GPA threshold that would effectively make two- and four-year public colleges and universities tuition-free for in-state residents. If the proposal is approved during the 2020 legislative session beginning Jan. 21, 2020, it will be implemented beginning July 1, 2020.

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#21. Utah

- Graduate or professional degree: 12% of residents 25 years and over ($72,603 median income)
- Bachelor's degree: 22.8% ($49,238)
- Some college or associate degree: 34.9% ($37,148)
- High school diploma: 22.6% ($33,406)
- Less than high school diploma: 7.6% ($27,432)

Most Utah residents stop their education after an associate degree, but a solid number go on to earn a bachelor’s or graduate degree—22.8% and 12%, respectively. That may be in part due to the fact that Utah has the lowest amount of student loan debt in the U.S., according to 2019 data from WalletHub. The state is ranked the 11th most educated in the country.

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#20. Georgia

- Graduate or professional degree: 12.3% of residents 25 years and over ($67,375 median income)
- Bachelor's degree: 19.5% ($54,692)
- Some college or associate degree: 27.9% ($35,172)
- High school diploma: 27.8% ($30,400)
- Less than high school diploma: 12.4% ($23,946)

The 2020 Georgia legislation kicked things off in mid-January by proposing adjustments to higher education. One bill approved by the state senate’s higher education committee restricts the number of credit hours high school students can spend on the state’s popular dual enrollment program in which they take college classes. The move, which still needs to be voted on by the senate, is designed to reduce costs to the state.

Other proposals include House Bill 766, which would create an escrow account for college athletes, and House Bill 736, designed to provide student loan forgiveness for educators at public schools in need of additional teachers.

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#19. Minnesota

- Graduate or professional degree: 12.5% of residents 25 years and over ($73,062 median income)
- Bachelor's degree: 24.2% ($57,806)
- Some college or associate degree: 32.5% ($40,837)
- High school diploma: 24.2% ($33,173)
- Less than high school diploma: 6.6% ($27,244)

State fiscal support for higher education in Minnesota grew by 17% between fiscal years 2015 and 2020. Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz in January 2020 proposed a $477 million investment in state colleges and universities to update and maintain Minnesota campuses.

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#18. Pennsylvania

- Graduate or professional degree: 12.7% of residents 25 years and over ($71,209 median income)
- Bachelor's degree: 19.2% ($52,668)
- Some college or associate degree: 24.5% ($37,372)
- High school diploma: 34.6% ($31,870)
- Less than high school diploma: 9% ($26,096)

More Pennsylvanians stop school after graduating high school than go on to any other level of higher education. Those who do advance to a graduate degree can expect to earn more than double the median income of their high school-educated peers, but it comes at a cost: Pennsylvania residents carry the second-most amount of student loan debt in the U.S., according to 2019 data from WalletHub.

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#17. Kansas

- Graduate or professional degree: 12.8% of residents 25 years and over ($61,361 median income)
- Bachelor's degree: 21.1% ($49,852)
- Some college or associate degree: 31.8% ($35,549)
- High school diploma: 25.4% ($30,792)
- Less than high school diploma: 9% ($26,462)

Kansas budget proposals put forth in January 2020 included a $28 million increase in higher education spending. That number falls short of the amounts asked for by state universities that included $10 million in aid and $50 million in base funds. The state exceeds the national average for residents with a graduate degree and is ranked as the 24th- most educated state by WalletHub

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#16. Oregon

- Graduate or professional degree: 12.9% of residents 25 years and over ($69,381 median income)
- Bachelor's degree: 21% ($51,699)
- Some college or associate degree: 34.3% ($36,161)
- High school diploma: 22.2% ($31,098)
- Less than high school diploma: 9.5% ($26,327)

Oregon’s Higher Education Coordinating Commission at the start of 2020 shared a public, online survey to get Oregonians’ perspectives on how to improve higher education and training. Responses will educate a new strategic plan for post-secondary education in Oregon. The state has increased funding for higher education by 43% since 2015, according to data from Grapevine.

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#15. California

- Graduate or professional degree: 12.9% of residents 25 years and over ($90,204 median income)
- Bachelor's degree: 21.3% ($62,347)
- Some college or associate degree: 28.8% ($39,614)
- High school diploma: 20.7% ($31,954)
- Less than high school diploma: 16.2% ($24,263)

California in 2019 was ranked the 25th- most educated state by WalletHub. Residents here with a graduate degree earn the second-highest median income of any state, at more than $90,000. That’s nearly $30,000 more than college graduates with a bachelor’s degree and more than $50,000 more than those with some college or an associate degree. Californians have the third-lowest amount of student loan debt in the country of the 50 states and Washington D.C.

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#14. Delaware

- Graduate or professional degree: 13.1% of residents 25 years and over ($70,036 median income)
- Bachelor's degree: 18.3% ($52,267)
- Some college or associate degree: 25.3% ($36,893)
- High school diploma: 33.2% ($32,173)
- Less than high school diploma: 10.2% ($24,961)

Though Delaware has only six colleges and universities, that doesn’t stop residents from pursuing higher education. More than 25% of residents receive an associate degree or some college credit, 18.3% get a bachelor’s degree, and 13.1% earn a graduate degree. Despite these numbers, the state lost 4.8 points since 2008 in an annual analysis of federal data by the EdWeek Research Center. Points are based on a full spectrum of education data, from parental education and kindergarten enrollment to postsecondary participation.

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#13. Washington

- Graduate or professional degree: 13.9% of residents 25 years and over ($80,520 median income)
- Bachelor's degree: 22.8% ($61,135)
- Some college or associate degree: 33.2% ($40,755)
- High school diploma: 21.7% ($35,865)
- Less than high school diploma: 8.4% ($28,613)

State fiscal support for higher education in Washington has climbed by 39% since the 2014-2015 school year. The increased attention to post-secondary education has paid off: The state is ranked seventh most-educated in the country. Those who go on to earn a graduate’s degree can expect their median incomes to almost double.

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#12. Illinois

- Graduate or professional degree: 14% of residents 25 years and over ($75,802 median income)
- Bachelor's degree: 21.1% ($57,357)
- Some college or associate degree: 28.4% ($37,827)
- High school diploma: 26.1% ($31,625)
- Less than high school diploma: 10.5% ($26,046)

The University of Illinois System in January 2020 raised its tuition for in-state freshmen for the first time in six years, marking a change that affects its three institutions. The controversial increase comes amidst growing concern about college affordability and was announced the same day as a 39% salary increase for system president Timothy Killeen from $600,000 (plus $100,000 performance-based bonus) to $835,000.

Though the number of Illinois residents with graduate degrees is above the national average, it still falls behind these other education levels.

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#11. New Hampshire

- Graduate or professional degree: 14.5% of residents 25 years and over ($70,885 median income)
- Bachelor's degree: 22.4% ($57,015)
- Some college or associate degree: 28.6% ($41,801)
- High school diploma: 27.7% ($35,200)
- Less than high school diploma: 6.9% ($27,551)

New Hampshire’s relatively high number of residents with graduate degrees might be due in part to its proximity to Massachusetts, which has the second-highest number of residents with graduate degrees in the country. In this state, graduate degree holders earn a median income of more than $70,000. Data from Grapevine found New Hampshire in 2020 is investing the least in higher education with a planned $103 per person.

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#10. Rhode Island

- Graduate or professional degree: 14.5% of residents 25 years and over ($71,954 median income)
- Bachelor's degree: 19.9% ($56,513)
- Some college or associate degree: 26.3% ($41,218)
- High school diploma: 28.4% ($35,673)
- Less than high school diploma: 10.9% ($30,423)

The University of Rhode Island in January 2020 received a $565,000 grant from the Champlin Foundation to support hands-on education in various departments including photography and chemistry. The foundation has in the last 30 years provided more than $15 in funding to the school. In her State of the State address that same month, Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo connected the state’s improved economy to its commitment to improving education.

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#9. Vermont

- Graduate or professional degree: 15.6% of residents 25 years and over ($60,524 median income)
- Bachelor's degree: 23.1% ($43,198)
- Some college or associate degree: 26.2% ($36,907)
- High school diploma: 28.6% ($31,453)
- Less than high school diploma: 6.5% ($29,376)

Vermont is set to spend $157.17 per person on higher education, according to data from Grapevine. The state outspends almost all other states on primary and secondary school education, to the tune of about $19,000 per student. More than 15% of Vermont residents hold a graduate or professional degree, but a high school diploma is still the most common level of education in the state.

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#8. Colorado

- Graduate or professional degree: 15.7% of residents 25 years and over ($68,181 median income)
- Bachelor's degree: 26% ($54,937)
- Some college or associate degree: 29.4% ($39,129)
- High school diploma: 20.8% ($35,013)
- Less than high school diploma: 8.1% ($29,312)

Colorado is ranked the third most-educated state in the country, according to 2019 data from WalletHub. That ranking comes despite low graduation rates that fall 45th of all the states. Colorado also has the smallest gender gap in the country for educational attainment.

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#7. New Jersey

- Graduate or professional degree: 16% of residents 25 years and over ($89,332 median income)
- Bachelor's degree: 24.8% ($65,658)
- Some college or associate degree: 23.1% ($42,079)
- High school diploma: 26.3% ($34,431)
- Less than high school diploma: 9.8% ($24,963)

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy in January 2020 signed legislation allowing children of H-1B visa holders in New Jersey to be eligible for in-state tuition costs for public post-secondary institutions. New legislation in the Garden State allows incarcerated people to be eligible for state aid for college. Graduate degree holders in New Jersey can anticipate a median income that’s nearly $14,000 higher than their peers with only a bachelor’s degree, and more than double that of people with an associate degree.

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#6. New York

- Graduate or professional degree: 16.4% of residents 25 years and over ($77,469 median income)
- Bachelor's degree: 20.8% ($60,985)
- Some college or associate degree: 24% ($40,458)
- High school diploma: 25.9% ($32,286)
- Less than high school diploma: 12.9% ($23,749)

New York is on track to spend $314.97 per person on higher education in 2020, according to Grapevine data. New York is one of just three states to reduce its college funding in 2020, along with Alaska and Hawaii. About a quarter of New York residents stop school after high school, and nearly another quarter earn an associate degree or complete some college. Slightly more than 20% of New Yorkers earn a bachelor’s degree, and 16.4% earn a graduate or professional degree—with the latter out-earning high school grads by more than $45,000.

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#5. Virginia

- Graduate or professional degree: 17.1% of residents 25 years and over ($82,600 median income)
- Bachelor's degree: 22.3% ($60,105)
- Some college or associate degree: 26.5% ($39,440)
- High school diploma: 24% ($31,831)
- Less than high school diploma: 10.1% ($24,900)

Virginia’s proposed higher education bills for 2020 center on issues of transparency and forcing college boards to explain any tuition increases. Throughout the state, an associate degree or some college is the most common education level, with more than a quarter of the population pursuing this amount of study. Still, the state cracks the top five for having a whopping 17.1% of residents with a graduate degree, and they more than double their income as a result. The state in 2020 is spending $267.14 of state funds on each person for higher education.

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#4. Connecticut

- Graduate or professional degree: 17.8% of residents 25 years and over ($83,968 median income)
- Bachelor's degree: 21.8% ($64,398)
- Some college or associate degree: 24.5% ($41,716)
- High school diploma: 26.9% ($35,446)
- Less than high school diploma: 9.1% ($25,769)

Connecticut ranks as the fifth-most educated state in the country and falls in 15th place of states with the most student loan debt. Though more Connecticut residents earn only a high school diploma than go on to any other form of higher education, it still has a higher percentage of graduate degree holders than most of the country.

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#3. Maryland

- Graduate or professional degree: 18.9% of residents 25 years and over ($86,118 median income)
- Bachelor's degree: 21.9% ($63,399)
- Some college or associate degree: 25.5% ($42,074)
- High school diploma: 24.2% ($35,780)
- Less than high school diploma: 9.5% ($27,088)

The second-most educated state in the country has come under fire for undervaluing community college education. In a scathing Jan. 17, 2020, op-ed in the Baltimore Sun, the paper’s editorial board called out Gov. Larry Hogan’s state budget and legislation for 2020, which would give Maryland’s community colleges half the expected state aid. Further, the budget reduces long-term growth by $100 million.

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#2. Massachusetts

- Graduate or professional degree: 20.1% of residents 25 years and over ($81,469 median income)
- Bachelor's degree: 24.4% ($62,154)
- Some college or associate degree: 22.9% ($41,221)
- High school diploma: 23.3% ($36,248)
- Less than high school diploma: 9.2% ($26,686)

WalletHub named Massachusetts the most educated state in the country for 2020. Massachusetts in 2020 is investing $244.26 per capita on post-secondary education and has increased its higher education spending by 15% since the fiscal year 2015. More than a fifth of Massachusetts residents hold a graduate or professional degree, and another 25% have bachelor’s degrees. This state is so highly educated, fewer than 10% of residents did not graduate from high school.

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#1. District of Columbia

- Graduate or professional degree: 34.5% of residents 25 years and over ($100,698 median income)
- Bachelor's degree: 25.9% ($68,183)
- Some college or associate degree: 15.1% ($37,064)
- High school diploma: 16.6% ($31,165)
- Less than high school diploma: 7.9% ($25,601)

Washington D.C. has the sixth-least student loan debt in the U.S. The nation’s capital has increased spending on post-secondary education by 23% in five years. More than a third of Washington D.C. residents hold a graduate or professional degree and the metropolis is the only place on this list where graduate degree holders have a median income of six figures.

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