New study shows economic impact of college degree for Georgia grads

Graduates listen to the speakers during the 2021 commencement ceremony at Bobby Dodd Stadium on Saturday, May 8, 2021. Two ceremonies were held Saturday for bachelor’s degree recipients, and master's and doctoral graduates' ceremonies were held Friday. (Photo: Steve Schaefer for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
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Graduates listen to the speakers during the 2021 commencement ceremony at Bobby Dodd Stadium on Saturday, May 8, 2021. Two ceremonies were held Saturday for bachelor’s degree recipients, and master's and doctoral graduates' ceremonies were held Friday. (Photo: Steve Schaefer for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Steve Schaefer

Credit: Steve Schaefer

Parents and academics are constantly harping on the importance of a college degree.

A study released Monday offers proof.

Students who graduate from Georgia’s public university system are likely to earn, on average, about $850,000 more over the course of their professional careers than Georgians with a high school diploma, according to the study by the Selig Center for Economic Growth in the University of Georgia’s Terry College of Business.

In a separate report by the center, the University System provided an $18.6 billion statewide economic impact during a 12-month period that ended in June 2020, a 0.6% increase from the 12-month prior period, amid the early months of the coronavirus pandemic.

Here’s a closer look at some interesting numbers in the earnings report:

  • $1,397,500 - estimated average career earnings for a high school graduate in Georgia who does not get a college degree of any kind.
  • $2,550,000 - the estimated average career earnings for a University System bachelor’s degree graduate who will work in Georgia.
  • $1,152,500 - the additional estimated earnings for University System students who graduate with a bachelor’s degree in comparison to a high school graduate.
  • $2,797,000 - the estimated average career earnings for a University System master’s degree graduate. The total is about twice as much as high school graduate.
  • 34% - the estimate incremental work-life earnings attributed to students who get a University System degree.