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College Graduate - Ages 65+
College Graduate - Ages 65+ in United States
United States

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United States Value:


Percentage of adults ages 65 and older who reported having a college degree

College Graduate - Ages 65+ in depth:

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College Graduate - Ages 65+ by State

Percentage of adults ages 65 and older who reported having a college degree

College Graduate - Ages 65+ Trends

Percentage of adults ages 65 and older who reported having a college degree

Trend: College Graduate - Ages 65+ in United States, 2023 Senior Report

Percentage of adults ages 65 and older who reported having a college degree

United States

 U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey

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About College Graduate - Ages 65+

US Value: 30.3%

Top State(s): Vermont: 40.1%

Bottom State(s): West Virginia: 20.7%

Definition: Percentage of adults ages 65 and older who reported having a college degree

Data Source and Years: U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey, 2021

Suggested Citation: America's Health Rankings analysis of U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey, United Health Foundation,, accessed 2023.

Educational attainment is important to the continuous development of a society. Those who earn a college degree have access to a wider variety of employment opportunities and are compensated more on average than those without a college degree.

College graduates tend to engage in healthier behaviors, which contribute to better quality of life and longevity. College graduates are also more likely to participate in civic engagement activities like voting, community service and community organizing, all of which are associated with positive mental and physical health outcomes.

While older adults cannot change whether or not they received a college education during their youth, education remains one of the greatest drivers of health inequities.

The percentage of older adults with a college degree is higher among: 

  • Asian older adults compared with non-Hispanic white, non-Hispanic African American and Hispanic older adults.
  • Men compared with women.

Although obtaining a college degree after the age of 65 is uncommon, education remains a major predictor of health and mortality outcomes. It is also a deciding variable of socioeconomic status, another major factor associated with improved health outcomes regardless of age, gender or race. Therefore, policies that support improving access to a quality education for low-income and racial and ethnic minority populations could have a significant impact on individual long-term health and overall population health.

Administration on Aging. 2022. “2021 Profile of Older Americans.” Administration for Community Living.

Cloete, Nico, Peter Maassen, and Pundy Pillay. 2017. “Higher Education and National Development, Meanings and Purposes.” In Encyclopedia of International Higher Education Systems and Institutions, edited by Jung Cheol Shin and Pedro Teixeira, 1–9. Dordrecht: Springer Netherlands.

Clouston, Sean A. P., Marcus Richards, Dorina Cadar, and Scott M. Hofer. 2015. “Educational Inequalities in Health Behaviors at Midlife: Is There a Role for Early-Life Cognition?” Journal of Health and Social Behavior 56 (3): 323–40.

Hahn, Robert A., and Benedict I. Truman. 2015. “Education Improves Public Health and Promotes Health Equity.” International Journal of Health Services 45 (4): 657–78.

Hummer, Robert A., and Elaine M. Hernandez. 2013. “The Effect of Educational Attainment on Adult Mortality in the United States.” Population Bulletin 68 (1): 1–16.

Kaplan, Robert M., Michael L. Spittel, and Daryn H. David, eds. 2015. Population Health: Behavioral and Social Science Insights. Rockville, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

Luy, Marc, Marina Zannella, Christian Wegner-Siegmundt, Yuka Minagawa, Wolfgang Lutz, and Graziella Caselli. 2019. “The Impact of Increasing Education Levels on Rising Life Expectancy: A Decomposition Analysis for Italy, Denmark, and the USA.” Genus 75 (1): 11.

West, Loraine A., Samantha Cole, Daniel Goodkind, and Wan He. 2014. “65+ in the United States: 2010.” P23-212. Current Population Reports. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Census Bureau.

Winkleby, Marilyn A., Darius E. Jatulis, Erica Frank, and Stephen P. Fortmann. 1992. “Socioeconomic Status and Health: How Education, Income, and Occupation Contribute to Risk Factors for Cardiovascular Disease.” American Journal of Public Health 82 (6): 816–20.

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