Everyone deserves opportunities to earn higher incomes and chart a better life for themselves. In today’s economy, those opportunities require a postsecondary credential. This means achieving a four-year college degree, a two-year associate’s degree, or an industry certification that aligns to area careers. Why earn a postsecondary credential?

  1. Provides highest possible return on investment

Over the course of a lifetime, the average worker with a bachelor’s degree will earn approximately $1 million more than a worker without a postsecondary education. [1] A postsecondary degree is the biggest predictor of economic mobility, which means access to better resources and ability to maintain a better quality of life. 82% of Texas adults said a certification or degree beyond high school leads to a better quality of life. [2]

  1. Earns you more money

Without a postsecondary credential, you only have a 12% chance of having a job that pays a living wage within 6 years of high school. [3] The median weekly earnings increase with each credential: high school diploma at $712, some college at $774, associate’s degree at $836, and a bachelor’s degree at $1,173. [4] College graduates with a bachelor’s degree typically earn 66% more than those with only a high school diploma and are also far less likely to face unemployment. [1] Retirement income is also 2.4 times higher with a postsecondary credential. For example, annual retirement income for one with a high school diploma $4,458; with some college $6,409; with an Associate’s degree $7,249, and with a bachelor’s degree $10,701. [5]

  1. Fosters career opportunities and job security

There are 22,400 high demand jobs in our region paying, on average, more than $33/hour. These jobs can be accessed with locally-earned workforce certification. [3] 86% of Texas adults said college education was useful in preparing you for a job or career. [2] In addition, when comparing those with a bachelor’s degree (and not graduate degrees) with those with a high school diploma, the probability of being employed is 24 percent higher and the likelihood of being unemployed is 2.2 times lower. [5]

  1. Helps you pass on wealth to future generations

Parents with a postsecondary education tend to be less risk averse and more readily able to invest in their own children’s education, leading to greater intergenerational wealth transfer. 76% of those with college-graduate parents said they entered a two- or four-year college immediately after high school, compared to the 37 percent of those from families without a degree. [6]

  1. Positively impacts the well-being of our community

Looking beyond the earnings potential and at the total value of a postsecondary degree, those with credentials contribute to society by keeping crime lower and funding hundreds of thousands of dollars more toward government services and social insurance programs. They are also less reliant on other taxpayers, volunteer more (2.3x higher), donate more to charity (3.4x higher), vote and stay more politically involved, and participate in school, community, service, civic and religious organizations more (1.9x higher). [2]


[1] U.S. Department of Education. July 27, 2015, https://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/fact-sheet-focusing-higher-education-student-success.

[2] WGU Texas. The 101: The  Higher Ed Poll of Texas, Examining Texans’ Attitudes about Higher Education. January 2019. https://www.wgu.edu/newsroom/press-release/2019/texas/wgu-texas-higher-ed-poll-1-16-19.html

[3] E3 Alliance. Community Conversation to Explore: Pathways to Prosperity: What is needed for a successful career? https://e3alliance.org/2019/05/14/community-conversations-to-explore-pathways-to-prosperity-what-is-needed-for-a-successful-career/ August 2019.

[4] Torpey, Elka. Measuring the value of education. Bureau of Labor Statistics, April 2018, https://www.bls.gov/careeroutlook/2018/data-on-display/education-pays.htm. April 2018.

[5] Trostel, Philip. It’s Not Just the Money: The Benefits of College Education to Individuals and to Society. Lumina Foundation. https://www.luminafoundation.org/files/resources/its-not-just-the-money.pdf

[6] Brown, Ronald and National Journal. Are College Degrees Inherited? Parents’ experiences with education strongly influence what their children do after high school. The Atlantic, April 11, 2014, https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2014/04/are-college-degrees-inherited/360532/