America's Health Rankings, United Health Foundation Logo

High School Completion
High School Completion in United States
United States

Explore national- and state-level data for hundreds of health, environmental and socioeconomic measures, including background information about each measure. Use features on this page to find measures; view subpopulations, trends and rankings; and download and share content.

How to use this page

United States Value:


Percentage of adults ages 25 and older with at least a high school diploma or equivalent

High School Completion in depth:

Additional Measures:

Explore Population Data:

General Population

High School Completion by State

Percentage of adults ages 25 and older with at least a high school diploma or equivalent

High School Completion Trends

Percentage of adults ages 25 and older with at least a high school diploma or equivalent

Trend: High School Completion in United States, 2023 Annual Report

Percentage of adults ages 25 and older with at least a high school diploma or equivalent

United States

 U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey

View All Populations

About High School Completion

US Value: 89.6%

Top State(s): Vermont: 95.0%

Bottom State(s): California: 84.7%

Definition: Percentage of adults ages 25 and older with at least a high school diploma or equivalent

Data Source and Years: U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey, 2022

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

The connection between education and health is well-documented. Higher educational attainment is associated with better jobs, higher earnings, increased health literacy, better self-reported health and fewer chronic conditions. Individuals with lower educational attainment are at a greater risk of adverse health outcomes such as obesity, cardiovascular disease, lung disease, mental health problems and premature death. Additionally, students who drop out of high school are more likely to experience incarceration.

Each high school dropout costs the United States more than $272,000 in lost revenue over a lifetime based on the differences between dropouts and graduates in income, taxes paid and government spending on health, crime and welfare. Increased time in school is also associated with higher civic engagement in adulthood.

The prevalence of high school completion is higher among:

  • Women compared with men. 
  • White, Black, Asian and Hawaiian/Pacific Islander adults compared with Hispanic and American Indian/Alaska Native adults.
  • Those who do not have children during high school compared with teenage mothers. 
  • Students without a disability compared with students who have a disability.
  • Students who are proficient in English compared with students with limited English proficiency.

Keeping children and adolescents in school through high school graduation and beyond is key to increasing equitable health outcomes. Several programs have been successful in improving high school graduation rates by targeting high-risk populations. Strategies that can improve rates of high school or GED completion — and ultimately, health equity — include: 

  • Vocational training (trade schools) and alternative schooling.
  • Social-emotional skills training.
  • College-oriented programming, mentoring and counseling.
  • Attendance monitoring and case management.
  • Community service opportunities.

Interventions to increase high school graduation rates should target social, economic and health-related barriers to graduation. These include absenteeism, chronic illness, poverty, hunger, developmental delay due to chronic stress, homelessness and teen pregnancy. The expansion of school-based health centers can help address these barriers


Increasing the proportion of high school students who graduate in four years is a Healthy People 2030 objective.

American Public Health Association. “The Dropout Crisis: A Public Health Problem and the Role of School-Based Health Care.” Washington, D.C.: APHA Center for School, Health and Education, February 2018.

Arenson, Michael, Philip J. Hudson, NaeHyung Lee, and Betty Lai. “The Evidence on School-Based Health Centers: A Review.” Global Pediatric Health 6 (January 2019): 2333794X1982874.

Cutler, David, and Adriana Lleras-Muney. “Education and Health.” Policy Brief #9. Ann Arbor, MI: National Poverty Center, Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at University of Michigan, March 2007.

Cutler, David, and Adriana Lleras-Muney. “Education and Health: Evaluating Theories and Evidence.” NBER Working Paper 12352. Cambridge, MA: National Bureau of Economic Research, July 2006.

DeBaun, Bill, and Martens Roc. “Saving Futures, Saving Dollars: The Impact of Education on Crime Reduction and Earnings.” Washington, D.C.: Alliance for Excellent Education, September 2013.

Flanagan, Constance, Peter Levine, and Richard Settersten. “Civic Engagement and the Changing Transition to Adulthood.” CIRCLE, Tufts University, February 27, 2009.

Hahn, Robert A., John A. Knopf, Sandra Jo Wilson, Benedict I. Truman, Bobby Milstein, Robert L. Johnson, Jonathan E. Fielding, et al. “Programs to Increase High School Completion: A Community Guide Systematic Health Equity Review.” American Journal of Preventive Medicine 48, no. 5 (March 26, 2015): 599–608.

Lundborg, Petter. “The Health Returns to Schooling—What Can We Learn from Twins?” Journal of Population Economics 26, no. 2 (2013): 673–701.

McFarland, Joel, Jiashan Cui, Juliet Holmes, and Xiaolei Wang. “Trends in High School Dropout and Completion Rates in the United States: 2019.” Compendium Report. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, January 2020.

Ross, Catherine E., and Chia-ling Wu. “The Links Between Education and Health.” American Sociological Review 60, no. 5 (October 1995): 719–45.

“Why Education Matters to Health: Exploring the Causes.” Issue Brief #2. Education and Health Initiative. Richmond, VA: The VCU Center on Society and Health and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, April 2014.

Wong, Mitchell D., Martin F. Shapiro, W. John Boscardin, and Susan L. Ettner. “Contribution of Major Diseases to Disparities in Mortality.” New England Journal of Medicine 347, no. 20 (November 14, 2002): 1585–92.

Current Reports

America’s Health Rankings builds on the work of the United Health Foundation to draw attention to public health and better understand the health of various populations. Our platform provides relevant information that policymakers, public health officials, advocates and leaders can use to effect change in their communities.

We have developed detailed analyses on the health of key populations in the country, including women and children, seniors and those who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces, in addition to a deep dive into health disparities across the country.