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Education Pays
Photo:Barbara Helgason
The start of a new school year is just around the corner. Eager youngsters are picking out new notebooks and choosing what they’ll wear on the first day of school. Teachers are arranging colorful displays in their classrooms and diligently making lesson plans…all in anticipation of another year of learning.

Yet over a million students who enter ninth grade each fall fail to graduate with their peers four years later. In fact, 7,000 students drop out every school day (Alliance for Excellence in Education Fact Sheet, Feb. 2009). Perhaps that statistic was acceptable fifty years ago. But the era in which a high school graduate can earn a living wage has ended in the United States.

If someone you know wants to drop out of high school, consider passing along the following facts from a report compiled in 2008 by the Alliance for Excellent Education which demonstrate the stunning impact of education on a person’s life. The report confirmed that a high school diploma creates a number of measurable benefits: a more secure and comfortable lifestyle for the graduate, fewer health issues, the decreased likelihood of receiving government assistance or going to jail, and the decreased likelihood of continuing a cycle of poverty in families.

Power of a Diploma

And, of course, the report verified the power a diploma has on the size of one’s wallet through increased earning power and accumulated wealth. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average annual income for someone with a high school diploma in 2005 was $26,933 compared to $17,299 for someone without one, a difference of $9,634. Over the course of a 40-year working career, that’s a difference of $260,000. Put another way, households headed by high school graduates accumulate 10 times more median household financial wealth than those headed by dropouts (Gouskova and Stafford 2005).

Individuals with higher levels of education are also less likely to experience unemployment regardless of race, ethnicity or gender (Bureau of Labor Statistics 2008). And, on average, high school graduates live nine years longer than dropouts and enjoy better health, including less heart disease, cancer, lung disease and diabetes (Baum and Ma 2007).

Yes, getting an education requires effort. But the life-long returns are well worth it!

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By Brenda Dickerson. Copyright © 2009 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

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