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The amount of education you complete directly affects your future earnings.

The more schooling you complete, the higher your potential earnings. The chart below details average annual incomes based on the highest level of school completed.

Educational Attainment Average Annual Income Marginal Annual Benefit
Doctorate $51,936 $-14,472
Professional $66,408 $25,476
Master's $40,932 $9,432
Bachelor's $31,500 $7,680
Associate $23,820 $2,988
Vocational $20,832 $1,884
Some college, no degree $18,948 $2,388
High school graduate only $16,560 $5,688
Not a high school graduate $10,872
*Source US Census Bureau

The Marginal Annual Benefit is the additional money you receive for completing one more level of education. For example, by graduating high school, you could earn an average of $5,688 more per year than you would if you did not graduate high school. So, your Marginal Annual Benefit is $5,688.

What is the Marginal Cost of completing the next level of education? The Marginal Cost is the amount of money it takes to complete one more year of school. It includes not only the cost of tuition, books and supplies, but also lost income. The chart below shows the average Annual Marginal Cost of post-secondary school for one year.

    Vocational/Technical $1,312
    First 2 Years of College $2,804
    Second 2 Years of College $3,660
    Graduate School $3,011
What is the Opportunity Cost of completing additional schooling?
The opportunity cost is the amount of money you give up in order to complete additional schooling. For example, if you don't go to college, you could earn an average of $16,560 a year. So, that is your opportunity cost. If you attend college for 4 years, the opportunity cost of college is ($16,560 x 4 years) $66,240. That sounds like a lot, but you have to remember that when you graduate from college you will probably be making more money per year.

So, in the end, will you still make more money by going to college?
The short answer is YES! To find out how much more money you could make by completing additional schooling, enter the information below.

What level of school do you plan on completing?

How many years after you obtain your degree do you plan on working?

Note: This calculation does not factor in that $1 earned today will probably be worth less than $1 earned in the future due to inflation.

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