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

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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7 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

    • ChristineS says:

      I am one of the 16.9 million who took the GED in 2009 and I was accepted at Elmhurst College in the fall of 2010. I an graduating at the end of this school year, I would have done so in May, but I apparently missed two reqirements. You can do it! Don’t get discouraged! Just make sure you take your ACT or SAT as they are required.

  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.

    • candy says:

      I agree just like they said if ypu young teen you like to not finish school and become nothing. not true 25, two kids and ged graduate and in enroll in college in manhattan.

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