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More Education, More Money!

by Joe Taylor Jr.

While some parents scramble to enroll their children in prestigious universities, many working adults without college degrees often wonder if they might benefit from additional education and career training. Data collected by government and private researchers shows that professionals with bachelor's degrees or higher earn significantly higher salaries than adults who stopped attending classes after high school.

The shift away from manufacturing towards a service economy has made earning a college degree a valuable career goal. Government analysts recently released data that illustrates just how wide the salary gap has grown between college degree holders and working high school graduates over the past ten years.

Associate's Degrees Offer 23 Percent Pay Raise

Earning an associate's degree in a high-demand field like nursing is one of the quickest ways to accelerate your income. While working high school graduates often earned more than $30,000 last year, most graduates of associate's degree programs earned over $37,000, an increase of 23 percent. Since most associate's degree programs can be completed part-time, they offer students one of the most convenient ways to qualify for better paying jobs.

Bachelor's Degrees Bump Income by 61 Percent

By adding two more years to most associate's degree programs, you can earn a bachelor's degree and qualify for even more lucrative jobs in a variety of specialized fields. In 2006, most bachelor's degree holders earned over $50,000 per year, a 61 percent difference than working high school graduates. 1996 figures showed only a 55 percent difference, underscoring the increased need for a bachelor's degree in today's job market.

Double Your Income with a Master's Degree

Reflecting the higher salaries earned by highly skilled workers, most professionals with master's degrees earned over $59,500 in 2006, nearly double the typical salary of a working high school graduate. In addition, the unemployment rate for professionals with a master's degree dropped to an astonishing 1.7 percent, reflecting the resurgence of the high-tech sector in the job market.

MBA Degrees Result in Record Salary Offers

Although government researchers did not specifically track the difference in salaries between holders of MBA degrees and graduates from other disciplines, recent news reports indicate that MBA degree programs are producing executives with some of the highest starting salaries in recent history. For instance, a Wall Street Journal survey concluded that over 80 percent of 2007 graduates with MBA degrees received salary offers of $75,000 or more. Meanwhile, a New York Times report discovered that MBA degree programs offered women some of the best opportunities to rejoin the work force after taking time away from their careers to raise families.

Doctoral Degrees Offer Job Security Along with Personal Wealth

Finally, most professionals with doctoral degrees reported earning over $74,900 in 2006, nearly a 150 percent increase in salary compared to working high school graduates. While that increase is slightly smaller than the 161 percent gap between the two groups in 1996, economists attribute the decline to the smaller salary increases earned by academics and other research professionals who enjoy tremendous job security and an unemployment rate of under 1.5 percent.

Cash Concerns Keep High School Grads from Seeking Bachelor's Degrees

Economists have identified two factors that often discourage potential college graduates from enrolling in college degree programs. First, many working parents and other adults on tight budgets may feel that they cannot find a way to pay for college. Second, many adults who enter the workforce directly from high school feel like they can earn more money over the course of their lifetimes compared to friends with associate's degrees or other diplomas.

However, government statistics show that, over the long term, graduates of advanced degree programs still retain far more of their incomes than workers who stop attending class after high school. Some economists recognize that high school graduates in the workforce realize more government benefits and fewer taxes than peers who continued on to bachelor's degree programs. However, the increased salaries earned over the lifetime of a college graduate lay the groundwork for an overall higher quality of life.


Your Social Security Number

Identity Theft And Your Social Security Number

Your number is confidential

The Social Security Administration protects your Social Security number and keeps your records confidential. We do not give your number to anyone, except when authorized by law. You should be careful about sharing your number, even when you are asked for it. You should ask why your number is needed, how it will be used and what will happen if you refuse. The answers to these questions can help you decide if you want to give out your Social Security number.

How might someone steal your number?

Identity thieves get your personal information by:

* Stealing wallets, purses and your mail (bank and credit card statements, pre-approved credit offers, new checks and tax information);
* Stealing personal information you provide to an unsecured site on the Internet, from business or personnel records at work and personal information in your home;
* Rummaging through your trash, the trash of businesses and public trash dumps for personal data;
* Posing by phone or E-mail as someone who legitimately needs information about you, such as employers or landlords; or

Buying personal information from “inside” sources. For example, an identity thief may pay a store employee for information about you that appears on an application for goods, services or credit.

Be careful with your Social Security card and number

Show your card to your employer when you start a job so your records are correct. Provide your Social Security number to your financial institution(s) for tax reporting purposes. Keep your card and any other document that shows your Social Security number on it in a safe place. DO NOT routinely carry your card or other documents that display your number.

What if you think someone is using your number?

Sometimes more than one person uses the same Social Security number, either on purpose or by accident. If you suspect that someone else is using your number for work purposes, you should contact us to report the problem. We will review your earnings with you to ensure that our records are correct.

You also may review earnings posted to your record on your Social Security Statement (Form SSA-7005). The Statement is mailed automatically each year to workers age 25 and older. You also can get a Statement at any time by requesting one online or by calling our 800 number.

What if an identity thief is creating credit problems for you?

If someone has misused your Social Security number or other personal information to create credit or other problems for you, Social Security cannot resolve these problems. You should contact the Federal Trade Commission for help.

You can contact the Federal Trade Commission by:

* Internet—
* Telephone— 1-877-IDTHEFT (1-877-438-4338)
* TTY— 1-866-653-4261
* You also should monitor your credit report periodically. Free credit reports are available online at

Should you get a new Social Security number?

If you have done all you can to fix the problems resulting from misuse of your Social Security number and someone still is using your number, we may assign you a new number.

You cannot get a new Social Security number:

* To avoid the consequences of filing for bankruptcy;
* If you intend to avoid the law or your legal responsibility; or
* If your Social Security card is lost or stolen, but there is no evidence that someone is using your number.

If you decide to apply for a new number, you will need to prove your age, U.S. citizenship or lawful immigration status and identity. For more information, ask for Your Social Security Number And Card (Publication Number 05-10002).

You also will need to provide evidence that you still are being disadvantaged by the misuse.

Keep in mind that a new number probably will not solve all your problems. This is because other governmental agencies (such as the Internal Revenue Service and state motor vehicle agencies) and private businesses (such as banks and credit reporting companies) likely will have records under your old number. Also, because credit reporting companies use the number, along with other personal information, to identify your credit record, using a new number will not guarantee you a fresh start. This is especially true if your other personal information, such as your name and address, remains the same.

If you receive a new Social Security number, you will not be able use the old number anymore.

For some victims of identity theft, a new number actually creates new problems. If the old credit information is not associated with the new number, the absence of any credit history under the new number may make it more difficult for you to get credit.

Contacting Social Security

Our website is a valuable resource for information about all of Social Security’s programs. There are a number of things you can do online.

In addition to using our website, you can call us toll-free at 1-800-772-1213. We can answer specific questions from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday. We can provide information by automated phone service 24 hours a day. (You can use our automated response system to tell us a new address or request a replacement Medicare card.) If you are deaf or hard of hearing, you may call our TTY number, 1-800-325-0778.

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