College enrollment has declined steadily in the United States in recent years. With rising tuition costs and surging student debt, enrollment has fallen by an average of nearly 2% a year since 2010. While four years of higher education may not be for everyone, Americans without a bachelor's degree tend to be far more limited in their career opportunities, job security, and earning potential.

Nationwide, an estimated 33.1% of American adults 25 and older have a bachelor's degree or higher. Educational attainment rates vary considerably across the country, however, and in nearly every state, there is at least one metro area where the share of adults with a bachelor's degree is well below the national average.

In the Staunton metro area, located in Virginia, only 24.2% of the adult population have a bachelor's degree, the smallest share of any metro area in the state. Meanwhile, across Virginia, 39.6% of adults have a bachelor's degree or higher.

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 places with lower educational attainment, incomes also tend to be lower than average. In the Staunton metro area, the typical household earns $57,844 per year, less than the median household income across Virginia of $76,456.

All data in this story are one-year estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau's 2019 American Community Survey.


Least educated metro areaAdults with a bachelor's degree (%)Adults with a bachelor's degree, statewide (%)Median household income ($)Median household income, statewide ($)
Alabama: Gadsden17.226.341,44751,734
Alaska: Anchorage33.130.280,67675,463
Arizona: Lake Havasu City-Kingman13.530.250,17962,055
Arkansas: Pine Bluff16.423.341,54148,952
California: Visalia13.635.057,69280,440
Colorado: Pueblo23.442.751,27677,127
Connecticut: Norwich-New London33.339.875,63378,833
Delaware: Dover24.533.258,00170,176
Florida: Sebring-Avon Park16.730.748,69859,227
Georgia: Dalton15.032.551,96761,980
Hawaii: Kahului-Wailuku-Lahaina27.733.680,75483,102
Idaho: Twin Falls20.028.756,66760,999
Illinois: Danville12.135.843,11169,187
Indiana: Michigan City-La Porte18.026.956,01957,603
Iowa: Sioux City22.629.360,13261,691
Kansas: Topeka29.134.059,56762,087
Kentucky: Elizabethtown-Fort Knox21.425.155,24652,295
Louisiana: Houma-Thibodaux16.325.049,87451,073
Maine: Lewiston-Auburn25.133.263,81358,924
Maryland: Cumberland19.140.949,72986,738
Massachusetts: Pittsfield33.945.058,89585,843
Michigan: Battle Creek20.230.049,05559,584
Minnesota: St. Cloud26.637.366,07674,593
Mississippi: Gulfport-Biloxi22.722.350,64245,792
Missouri: St. Joseph20.030.250,42557,409
Montana: Great Falls25.633.651,22757,153
Nebraska: Grand Island21.033.255,90763,229
Nevada: Carson City21.325.757,27063,276
New Hampshire: Manchester-Nashua37.837.683,62677,933
New Jersey: Vineland-Bridgeton16.141.254,58785,751
New Mexico: Farmington14.427.744,32151,945
New York: Watertown-Fort Drum22.437.853,91772,108
North Carolina: Rocky Mount17.432.346,46657,341
North Dakota: Bismarck33.430.470,97964,577
Ohio: Springfield16.229.350,12858,642
Oklahoma: Lawton20.526.251,33254,449
Oregon: Grants Pass16.834.547,57367,058
Pennsylvania: Johnstown20.632.349,07663,463
Rhode Island: Providence-Warwick33.234.870,96771,169
South Carolina: Sumter20.129.649,26356,227
South Dakota: Rapid City30.829.758,36159,533
Tennessee: Morristown19.328.747,32656,071
Texas: Odessa15.130.867,20564,034
Utah: St. George27.334.863,59575,780
Vermont: Burlington-South Burlington44.638.774,90963,001
Virginia: Staunton24.239.657,84476,456
Washington: Longview15.337.055,49778,687
West Virginia: Weirton-Steubenville17.521.149,51048,850
Wisconsin: Janesville-Beloit23.231.361,24364,168
Wyoming: Casper20.729.165,03465,003