Family Economist Says to Appreciate Economic Value of Education

Jeanette A. Tucker, Bollich, Patricia A., Braud, Emily

Distributed 7/11/03

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. "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 $33 Per Hour While Attending High School!" or "College Students - Earn Over $200 Per Hour!"

"That’s the kind of difference an education can make for you - based on lifetime earnings," Tucker says.

Studies have shown that based on 40-year work life a person with less than ninth grade education has average lifetime earnings of $609,960. That lifetime total increases to $756,080 for a high school graduate and $1,241,160 for someone with a college or technical degree.

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

  • Calculate the difference between the earnings of a high school graduate and one with a ninth grade education ($147,120) or between a high school graduate and a college graduate ($485,0808).

  • 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 ($36,530) or college ($121,270).

  • Divide this number by the average number of school days in a school year (high school-180 days = $202.94/day; college - 170 days = $866.21/day).

  • 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 $33.82 per hour while attending class, and college students can reap $216.55," Tucker says.

Of course, the LSU AgCenter professor points out that 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. "So students are challenged to complete their educations to achieve these earnings." Workers with less than a high school education will earn substantially less.

Tucker suggests contacting an extension agent in your parish LSU AgCenter office to learn more about the economics of education. In addition, log on to the Family and Consumer Sciences section under the Louisiana Cooperative Extension Service at the LSU AgCenter Web site:


On the Internet: LSU AgCenter: 

Source: Jeanette Tucker (225) 578-1425, or

10/4/2004 4:24:02 AM
Rate This Article:

Have a question or comment about the information on this page?

Innovate . Educate . Improve Lives

The LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture