GED Recipients Have Lower Earnings, are Less Likely to Enter College

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Written by Stephanie Ewert

Although most people complete high school by earning a traditional high school diploma, some complete a high school equivalency by passing the GED test. Most states and many federal programs consider the GED certificate to be formally the same as a high school diploma, yet GED recipients and high school graduates differ in levels of educational attainment and earnings.

In 2009, 16.9 million adults earned a GED certificate to satisfy their high school requirements. While 73 percent of those who received a high school diploma went on to complete at least some postsecondary education, less than half (43 percent) of GED certificate recipients did so. Furthermore, only 5 percent earned a bachelor’s degree or higher. In contrast, of high school diploma holders, 33 percent earned this level of education.

GED certificate holders had lower earnings than those who earned a regular high school diploma regardless of sex, race and ethnicity or age. Overall, high school diploma holders earned approximately $4,700 in mean monthly earnings compared with GED certificate holders, who earned $3,100. Ged holders

That said, having a GED certificate is much better than having no high school diploma at all. Those with some high school had mean earnings of about $2,400 a month, and those with only an elementary school education earned an average of about $2,100.

In addition to being less likely to pursue a college education, GED certificate holders earned less than high school diploma recipients even when they did achieve higher education. Among adults who attained a bachelor’s degree or higher, the mean earnings of those who earned a high school diploma were approximately $6,300, while the earnings of those who earned a GED certificate were approximately $4,900.

For more details, see our report What It’s Worth: Field of Training and Economic Status in 2009.

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5 Responses to GED Recipients Have Lower Earnings, are Less Likely to Enter College

  1. Fanny says:

    Hi I will love to take my ged because I want to be able to go to college and get a better job but I dont know if any college will receive my diploma if I get to do my GD with you guys. I really don’t want to waste my time and waste your time guide and my money also I really want to do my ged

  2. Jose Everardo Martinez says:

    Hi my name is Jose I would like to have information on how to get my ged online

  3. Vernon Perkins says:

    I’m a high school drop-out, and need my education, bad…..
    Can you please help me, so I can finish school?

  4. Abdramane lene says:

    I need help.

  5. Got a GED says:

    I have a GED, am under 30 years old, and will make $180k this year, possibly clearing $200k. Screw this article, it doesn’t mean anything.

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