A UM College Degree: Worth an Extra $20,000 a Year


How many people in Missoula wished they stuck it out and stayed in school? Or, an even better question, are there any readers who are high school or college dropouts making boatloads of cash?

It seems that what I am about to share is going to make you richer either way.

Long story short, here’s what would happen if you have the honor of being a graduate of the University of Montana: You make a decent amount of cash, but not as much as you would five years ago.

But don’t blame the faculty and teachers, blame the economy.

A report from the Pew Research Center indicates that a University of Montana bachelor’s degree is worth roughly $20,000 of extra income per year.

The University of Montana sign blanketed in snow.

Here’s the breakdown on the study:

  • Many college graduates earned an average of $51,000 in 2004.
  • The students with just a high school diploma earned close to $28,000.
  • Dropouts had a salary of close to $19,000.
  • People fresh out of college with a degree made an average of $78,000.

It seems that the gap between having money and no money at all is tightening up from back in 2008, when graduates from college made twice the amount as people with just a high school diploma.

Here’s something else we learned:

Montana had the highest proportions of adults with at least a high school diploma than most in the nation- all at about 92%. Texas had the lowest proportion of adults with at least a high school diploma, about 78%. It was followed closely by Kentucky and Mississippi.

Either way, one thing is for sure. There are still many, many people in Missoula who have succeeded without a college degree.

Some are self made and very resourceful millionaires. But think about the extra dough they could have made if they applied themselves toward a full fledged degree specializing in their passions?

So here’s what I want to know, Missoula:

Are there any college graduates out there who are working crappy jobs for crappy wages? What happened? What’s it going to take to turn things around? Any regrets that you spent all that time and money actually going to college?


To say he is America’s Tallest DJ wouldn’t be far from the truth when it comes to Aaron Traylor. He clocks in at a whopping 6 foot 10 inches and has been the premiere source of the Northwest’s born and raised talent for 20 years; he’s a radio disc jockey at ZooFM, turntable mix master, and a guy who has a hard time fitting into most clothing.