Return to the Your Money's Best Friend website home page Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency - Visit the agency home page (Link opens in a new browser window or tab)
Website Accessibility InformationSkip Navigation
About PHFAContact the Pennsylvania Department of Banking

Higher Education

Higher Ed FULL

Higher education is a sound investment. Some researchers say that for every year of learning after high school, you can expect to earn a 5–15% rate of return. And a 4-year college is not the only option. You can also expand your career options and increase your earnings potential through other opportunities:

  • Community college, 2-year college, or associate’s degree
  • Professional development
  • Specialized training and instruction
  • Career, trade, or vocational school

This section of describes the financial advantages and considerations of college and career-oriented training and how to find financial aid to help you pay for it. It also tells you about savings programs just for education.

Average expected earnings

Average annual earnings for 2011, by education level (according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics):

  • Non-high school graduate: $23,088
  • High school graduate: $32,552
  • Associate’s degree: $39,884
  • Bachelor’s degree: $53,976
  • Master’s degree: $66,144
  • Doctorate: $80,600

Buck's Two Cents


Take the time to learn about the tax breaks associated with college savings accounts and loans. The Government Accountability Office estimated that about 27% of taxpayers (about 374,000 people) who were apparently eligible to claim a college-related tax break failed to do so. Ten percent of these people could have reduced their taxes by more than $500.

Nearly 600,000 students attend Pennsylvania colleges and universities. Another 57,000 students are pursuing specialized associate’s degrees in private licensed schools.

Book Icon Other Web Resources

These resources link off to other sites not maintained by us.
Read our link policy.

Pennsylvania Resources
The Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) has information on schools in the Commonwealth, how to choose a career path, financial aid, scholarships, and more. Learn more...

One-Stop Shop
At the American Education Services (AES) website, you can search for a postsecondary education program, find tips for selecting a school, information on campus visits, and choosing a major.  Learn more ...

Keeping Costs Down
The U.S. Department of Education’s website on keeping college costs under control has details about savings plans, service programs, military options, and more.  Learn more ...

Tax Benefits
Learn about the Hope credit, Lifetime Learning credit, tuition deduction, student loan interest deductions, and more from the Internal Revenue Service.  Learn more ...

Click on the Jobs & Education topic at for a host of federal resources.  Learn more ...

Don’t Fall for Fakes
Read the Federal Trade Commission brochure, Avoid Fake-Degree Burns by Researching Academic Credentials.  Learn more ...

Plan Ahead
Read Financial Planning for College, available from the Federal Citizen Information Center, for an overview, estimates of higher education costs through 2020, and a worksheet to help you calculate how much to save.  Learn more ...

Compare the Options
ERIC Digest compares postsecondary certifications, licenses, associates degrees, and bachelor’s degrees.  Learn more ...

Sticker Shock
MSN’s Money Central provides a 5-Minute Guide to College CostsLearn more ...

  • Right on the Money - A family financial education program.
  • Financial Entertainment - Learn and have fun at the same time with these games from D2D. Challenge your friends. (Link opens in a new browser window or tab)
  • Share the wealth - Find this site useful? Send this page to a friend.

Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (this link will open a new browser window)Site MapPrivacy PolicyDisclaimer protect. regulate. inform.