Back-to-school: LSU AgCenter Family Economist Views Cash Value Of Education

Jeanette A. Tucker  |  4/19/2005 10:28:28 PM

Based on projected income with a degree, a student actually earns money while in school, as shown in the chart.

News You Can Use For July 2004

Education is valuable throughout your life, and the achievements you make today can determine the salaries you earn over a lifetime, says LSU AgCenter family economist Dr. Jeanette Tucker.

"Most students have never thought about how much they ‘earn’ by attending class each day," Tucker says, adding, "But the value of each hour’s education can be astounding for those who complete their high school and college educations."

The LSU AgCenter family economist says students might be more likely to think about the value of education if they saw advertisements with such catchy themes as, "Earn $62 per hour while attending high school," or, "College students: earn almost $300 per hour." She says that’s the kind of difference an education can make for you – based on lifetime earnings.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, based on 40-year work life, a person with less than ninth grade education has average lifetime earnings of $766,951. That lifetime total increases to $1,037,759 for a high school graduate and $1,839,432 for someone with a college or technical degree.

To determine the value of a day’s education, Tucker says to follow these steps:

1. Calculate the difference between the earnings of a high school graduate and one with a ninth grade education ($270,808) or between a high school graduate and a college graduate ($800,673).

2. Divide the extra earnings by the number of years attending high school (or college). This is one’s total earnings per year of high school ($67,702) or college ($200,168).

3. Divide this number by the average number of school days in a school year (high school-180 days = $376.12/day; college - 170 days = $1,177.46/day).

4. Finally, divide this number by the average number of hours spent in class each day (generally six hours for high school, four hours for college). This yields students earnings per hour in class while attending high school or college.

"Using these calculations, high school students earn $62.67 per hour while attending class, while college students can reap $294.36," Tucker says.

Of course, the LSU AgCenter specialists points out the key to earning at these levels is to be sure to complete a degree.

"Businesses offering these salaries would have no trouble attracting enthusiastic employees," she says, adding, "Students are thus challenged to complete their educations, so they can achieve these earnings."

For information on related family and consumer topics, visit the FCS Web site at
/Extension/Departments/fcs/ For local information and educational programs, contact an extension agent in your parish LSU AgCenter office.


On the Internet: LSU AgCenter:
Source: Jeanette Tucker (225) 578-1425 or

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