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College grads make more money than others, even with less work experience, new report says

The study tracked more than 40,000 Kentucky students from their high school graduation in 2011 to 2019.

FRANKFORT, Ky. — A report by the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education found that years after graduating high school, students who earned a college credential made more than both high school graduates and students who left college without a credential, despite fewer years of full-time work. 

The study tracked 43,655 Kentucky students from their high school graduation in 2011 to 2019. The council uses credentials as the overarching term for all degrees and certificates at all levels. 

While high school graduates earned a median annual salary of $29,478 after eight years, associate's degree holders earned $38,268 and on-time bachelor’s degree holders earned $41,915.

“The evidence is clear, and it’s compelling,” said CPE President Aaron Thompson. “Higher education pays for those who earn college credentials in Kentucky, despite a growing narrative that tells us that it’s not worth the time and money.”

The report also looked at whether student loan debt was affordable compared to entry-level incomes for graduates. For students who graduated on time, the council concluded that median loans were "reasonable."

The full report is available to view here.

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