The average cost of a college education in the United States is $35,720 a year -- three times higher than it was two decades ago. While rising tuition costs are discouraging many Americans from enrolling, a college education is an investment that can broaden access to career opportunities, improve job security, and increase earning potential.

Nationwide, an estimated 32.1% of American adults 25 and older have a bachelor's degree or higher. Educational attainment rates vary considerably across the country, however, and in every state, there is at least one city where the share of adults with a bachelor's degree is higher than the national average.

In Montana, Bozeman, a city of about 46,700 people, ranks as the best educated place. An estimated 58.7% of adults in the area have a bachelor's degree or higher, compared to the 32.0% bachelor's degree attainment rate across the state as a whole.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average weekly wage for a college-educated worker in the United States is about 67% higher than it is for those with no more than a high school diploma -- and in cities with well-educated populations, incomes also tend to be higher than average. In Bozeman, the typical household earns $55,569 a year, slightly more than the statewide median household income of $54,970.

All data in this story are five-year estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau's 2019 American Community Survey. We considered all census "place" geographies -- a category that includes incorporated legal entities and census-designated statistical entities. Places with populations of 25,000 or less, or with high margins of error in education data, were excluded from analysis.


Most educated placeAdults with a bachelor's degree (%)Adults with a bachelor's degree; statewide (%)Median household income ($)Median household income; statewide ($)
Alabama: Vestavia Hills69.325.5109,48550,536
Alaska: Juneau38.429.688,39077,640
Arizona: Catalina Foothills67.829.592,92958,945
Arkansas: Bentonville50.223.080,39247,597
California: Los Altos84.233.9235,27875,235
Colorado: Boulder76.040.969,52072,331
Connecticut: Westport78.039.3206,46678,444
Delaware: Newark53.232.058,43468,287
Florida: Coral Gables66.729.9100,84355,660
Georgia: Dunwoody72.231.396,05758,700
Hawaii: East Honolulu58.333.0133,16581,275
Idaho: Moscow55.827.641,89655,785
Illinois: Wilmette83.234.7164,68165,886
Indiana: West Lafayette71.526.534,65056,303
Iowa: Ames62.728.648,10560,523
Kansas: Leawood76.933.4157,51559,597
Kentucky: Lexington-Fayette43.624.257,29150,589
Louisiana: Lafayette38.224.151,26449,469
Maine: Portland52.631.860,46757,918
Maryland: Bethesda85.940.2164,14284,805
Massachusetts: Lexington84.743.7186,20181,215
Michigan: Ann Arbor76.029.165,74557,144
Minnesota: Edina69.836.1104,24471,306
Mississippi: Madison68.522.0114,52145,081
Missouri: Chesterfield69.229.2113,31555,461
Montana: Bozeman58.732.055,56954,970
Nebraska: Lincoln39.631.957,74661,439
Nevada: Summerlin South48.824.793,89960,365
New Hampshire: Dover46.537.071,63176,768
New Jersey: Princeton81.039.7137,67282,545
New Mexico: Santa Fe41.727.357,97249,754
New York: Ithaca66.936.634,42468,486
North Carolina: Chapel Hill76.931.373,61454,602
North Dakota: West Fargo44.230.085,12064,894
Ohio: Upper Arlington77.128.3123,54856,602
Oklahoma: Edmond53.425.581,47352,919
Oregon: Lake Oswego71.433.7108,92762,818
Pennsylvania: State College70.631.434,00561,744
Rhode Island: Warwick33.834.273,75767,167
South Carolina: Mount Pleasant63.928.1103,23253,199
South Dakota: Sioux Falls35.228.859,91258,275
Tennessee: Brentwood76.127.3168,68853,320
Texas: University Park87.829.9224,48561,874
Utah: Holladay55.834.088,72871,621
Vermont: Burlington53.338.051,39461,973
Virginia: McLean83.538.8207,18474,222
Washington: Mercer Island78.236.0147,56673,775
West Virginia: Morgantown55.020.642,96646,711
Wisconsin: Brookfield60.730.1108,19861,747
Wyoming: Laramie52.727.446,11764,049