Jack's Insights September 2016

By Jack Whittier, Director
UNL Panhandle Extension District and Panhandle Research and Extension Center

Nebraska values education – that’s the message I came away with after attending recent Town Hall meeting hosted by Gov. Pete Ricketts and State Sen. John Stinner in Scottsbluff.

Dr. Jack Whittier

During the meeting, Gov. Ricketts showed a poster with a pie chart of the Fiscal Year 2016-17 General Fund appropriations. As Director of the University of Nebraska Panhandle Research and Extension Center (PHREC), I’m part of the Nebraska education arena; therefore, I particularly took note of the proportion of the pie chart dedicated to education. This included the state aid to schools (28 percent), University of Nebraska (14 percent), community colleges (2 percent) and state colleges (1 percent). I then did the math to see that 45 percent of funding by Nebraska is devoted to education. My next thought was, wow, Nebraskans really do put their money where they believe it is important.

Since the Town Hall meeting, I have been recalling numbers I saw previously that describe the value of education for household income. Annually, the U.S. Census Bureau does a survey to measure the impact of education level on annual income. 

Advisor Perspectives, an organization that provides support information to wealth managers and financial advisors, citing census survey data for 2014, gives some interesting insights into the value of education. Their website (www.advisorperspectives.com) says: “The median income for all households with a householder age 25 and older was $55,283. We've rounded the data points to the nearest $100, e.g. $55.3K for all households. A particularly notable feature is that the Bachelor's Degree median at $82.8K is double the High School grad's $41.4K. A Master's Degree increases the median by $18K. A Professional Degree (Law and Medical being the major ones) adds another $33.2K.”

Did you catch that?  A person earning a Bachelor’s Degree earns twice the amount a High School graduate earns. It seems pretty wise for Nebraska to invest in education – at all levels of education, including primary, secondary and higher education – which is exactly what is happening as reflected by the state budget. 

I’d be remiss if I did not also point out that the University of Nebraska, as the only university in Nebraska, is a great place for those seeking more education to invest in. It seems apparent that the investment to obtain your bachelor’s, or higher degree is a smart way to increase your annual income after high school.

I repeat my opening statement, Nebraska values education, and the data show this is a wise investment.