Least educated counties in Kentucky

Written by:
November 13, 2021
Kybluegrass // Wikimedia Commons

Least educated counties in Kentucky

The value of traditional education can vary widely across the country. While a college degree has long been viewed as a critical step toward the American dream, growing costs have led many students to reconsider the return-on-investment of higher education. Meanwhile, local economies and individual circumstances can push others toward learning a trade or entering the workforce early.

These considerations aside, national statistics show a clear difference in earnings as they relate to educational attainment, as college graduates typically earn 65% more than those with only a high school degree.

To help understand areas with the lowest educational attainment, Stacker compiled a list of the least educated counties in Kentucky using data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Counties are ranked by the lowest percent of the population 25 years and over that has a Bachelor’s degree or higher. Ties are broken by the highest percent with less than high school diploma.

Keep read on for a look at the least-educated counties in Kentucky.

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Calvin Beale // Wikimedia Commons

#50. Fulton County

- 13.4% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 20.9% ($18,615 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 37.4% ($21,432)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 28.3% ($29,375)
- Bachelor's degree: 8.8% ($40,417)
- Graduate or professional degree: 4.6% ($41,346)

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Nyttend // Wikimedia Commons

#49. Cumberland County

- 13.3% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 18.2% ($18,009 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 43% ($21,786)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 25.4% ($26,219)
- Bachelor's degree: 8.6% ($32,031)
- Graduate or professional degree: 4.8% ($80,379)

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Nyttend // Wikimedia Commons

#48. Bracken County

- 13.2% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 14.3% ($49,850 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 46.4% ($40,795)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 26.1% ($30,168)
- Bachelor's degree: 7.6% ($47,823)
- Graduate or professional degree: 5.6% ($51,544)

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W.marsh // Wikimedia Commons

#47. Pendleton County

- 13.2% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 16.1% ($32,823 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 43.8% ($31,737)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 26.8% ($36,782)
- Bachelor's degree: 7% ($53,649)
- Graduate or professional degree: 6.3% ($46,946)

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Acdixon // Wikimedia Commons

#46. Todd County

- 13.2% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 22.5% ($30,538 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 40.5% ($30,174)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 23.7% ($32,398)
- Bachelor's degree: 7.8% ($52,037)
- Graduate or professional degree: 5.5% ($55,548)

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Nyttend // Wikimedia Commons

#45. Green County

- 13.2% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 24.5% ($21,709 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 37.8% ($29,554)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 24.6% ($30,833)
- Bachelor's degree: 7% ($41,897)
- Graduate or professional degree: 6.1% ($29,028)

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Nyttend // Wikimedia Commons

#44. Henry County

- 13.1% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 14.9% ($27,871 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 41.2% ($27,649)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 30.8% ($31,663)
- Bachelor's degree: 8% ($43,958)
- Graduate or professional degree: 5.1% ($43,571)

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Nyttend // Wikimedia Commons

#43. Crittenden County

- 13.1% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 16.2% ($23,438 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 42% ($31,347)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 28.7% ($32,220)
- Bachelor's degree: 7.7% ($46,071)
- Graduate or professional degree: 5.4% ($60,667)

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FloNight (Sydney Poore) and Russell Poore // Wikimedia Commons

#42. Lincoln County

- 13% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 20.2% ($27,578 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 42.7% ($29,772)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 24.2% ($32,321)
- Bachelor's degree: 7.8% ($41,063)
- Graduate or professional degree: 5.2% ($51,949)

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Nyttend // Wikimedia Commons

#41. Pike County

- 13% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 23% ($24,464 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 39.4% ($28,692)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 24.5% ($31,281)
- Bachelor's degree: 6.7% ($41,563)
- Graduate or professional degree: 6.3% ($59,611)

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Nyttend // Wikimedia Commons

#40. Metcalfe County

- 13% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 24.4% ($25,371 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 38.6% ($30,494)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 24.1% ($32,560)
- Bachelor's degree: 7% ($35,063)
- Graduate or professional degree: 5.9% ($64,022)

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Nyttend // Wikimedia Commons

#39. Grant County

- 12.9% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 13.4% ($24,306 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 47.4% ($38,234)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 26.3% ($39,975)
- Bachelor's degree: 8.6% ($39,745)
- Graduate or professional degree: 4.3% ($53,713)

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FloNight (Sydney Poore) and Russell Poore // Wikimedia Commons

#38. Fleming County

- 12.9% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 20.4% ($21,875 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 40.3% ($24,889)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 26.5% ($31,761)
- Bachelor's degree: 7.4% ($39,877)
- Graduate or professional degree: 5.5% ($60,625)

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Nyttend // Wikimedia Commons

#37. Casey County

- 12.8% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 23.9% ($18,649 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 40.6% ($26,289)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 22.7% ($27,220)
- Bachelor's degree: 6.7% ($31,250)
- Graduate or professional degree: 6.1% ($57,240)

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Megangen1990 // Wikimedia Commons

#36. Muhlenberg County

- 12.6% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 17.8% ($23,778 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 44.8% ($25,670)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 24.8% ($28,569)
- Bachelor's degree: 7.9% ($41,667)
- Graduate or professional degree: 4.7% ($48,859)

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Wdzinc // Wikimedia Commons

#35. Marion County

- 12.6% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 18.5% ($15,953 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 45.3% ($32,871)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 23.5% ($32,694)
- Bachelor's degree: 6.8% ($36,425)
- Graduate or professional degree: 5.8% ($54,214)

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CoryClaxon // Wikimedia Commons

#34. Carter County

- 12.6% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 20.9% ($12,926 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 40.3% ($24,755)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 26.3% ($31,068)
- Bachelor's degree: 7.3% ($44,375)
- Graduate or professional degree: 5.2% ($42,182)

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Nyttend // Wikimedia Commons

#33. Morgan County

- 12.5% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 23.7% ($31,406 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 41.4% ($27,149)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 22.3% ($30,953)
- Bachelor's degree: 6.5% ($36,307)
- Graduate or professional degree: 6% ($51,390)

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W.marsh // Wikimedia Commons

#32. Larue County

- 12.4% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 16% ($26,279 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 39.2% ($28,396)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 32.4% ($35,489)
- Bachelor's degree: 5% ($39,663)
- Graduate or professional degree: 7.3% ($48,547)

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JERRYE & ROY KLOTZ MD // Wikimedia Commons

#31. Wayne County

- 12.3% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 25.4% ($19,018 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 38.7% ($26,335)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 23.5% ($23,256)
- Bachelor's degree: 7.2% ($42,399)
- Graduate or professional degree: 5.1% ($52,908)

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Nyttend // Wikimedia Commons

#30. Letcher County

- 12.1% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 24.3% ($21,786 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 37% ($32,083)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 26.5% ($30,211)
- Bachelor's degree: 6% ($40,167)
- Graduate or professional degree: 6.2% ($58,519)

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Hunter Hawley // Wikimedia Commons

#29. Breckinridge County

- 11.9% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 16% ($16,270 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 44.9% ($31,359)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 27.2% ($36,426)
- Bachelor's degree: 7% ($38,750)
- Graduate or professional degree: 4.9% ($58,964)

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Nyttend // Wikimedia Commons

#28. Livingston County

- 11.8% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 16.2% ($17,229 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 43.6% ($31,591)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 28.3% ($26,106)
- Bachelor's degree: 8.4% ($38,750)
- Graduate or professional degree: 3.4% ($68,203)

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Nyttend // Wikimedia Commons

#27. Martin County

- 11.7% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 25.7% ($21,781 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 39% ($24,026)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 23.7% ($33,194)
- Bachelor's degree: 8.5% ($32,875)
- Graduate or professional degree: 3.2% ($40,991)

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Nyttend // Wikimedia Commons

#26. Gallatin County

- 11.6% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 18.9% ($17,100 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 44.2% ($34,777)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 25.4% ($32,488)
- Bachelor's degree: 9.2% ($50,625)
- Graduate or professional degree: 2.4% ($52,250)

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Ryan Emmick // Wikimedia Commons

#25. Hancock County

- 11.4% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 14.6% ($33,056 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 43.4% ($40,677)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 30.7% ($40,511)
- Bachelor's degree: 7.4% ($65,250)
- Graduate or professional degree: 4.1% ($58,750)

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verygreen // Wikimedia Commons

#24. Rockcastle County

- 11.4% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 21.5% ($18,958 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 43.4% ($31,799)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 23.7% ($28,320)
- Bachelor's degree: 6.6% ($41,536)
- Graduate or professional degree: 4.7% ($47,523)

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JERRYE & ROY KLOTZ MD // Wikimedia Commons

#23. Hart County

- 11.4% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 23.8% ($27,880 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 40.3% ($30,844)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 24.5% ($30,637)
- Bachelor's degree: 6.7% ($42,143)
- Graduate or professional degree: 4.7% ($55,380)

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Nyttend // Wikimedia Commons

#22. Floyd County

- 11.3% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 24.8% ($17,337 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 37.8% ($27,531)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 26.1% ($32,705)
- Bachelor's degree: 6.4% ($42,699)
- Graduate or professional degree: 4.9% ($46,447)

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Nyttend // Wikimedia Commons

#21. Menifee County

- 11.2% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 22.6% ($28,542 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 44.7% ($31,703)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 21.5% ($31,105)
- Bachelor's degree: 8.4% ($32,131)
- Graduate or professional degree: 2.8% ($52,969)

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Patricia Drury // Wikimedia Commons

#20. Union County

- 11.1% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 10%
- High school graduate: 47.8% ($29,907)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 31.2% ($37,870)
- Bachelor's degree: 6.3% ($50,995)
- Graduate or professional degree: 4.8% ($48,917)

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W.marsh // Wikimedia Commons

#19. Owen County

- 10.9% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 20.6% ($19,771 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 46.4% ($35,477)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 22% ($41,442)
- Bachelor's degree: 7.8% ($52,269)
- Graduate or professional degree: 3.2% ($56,935)

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W.marsh // Wikimedia Commons

#18. Harlan County

- 10.8% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 27.2% ($14,701 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 34.6% ($27,329)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 27.4% ($26,032)
- Bachelor's degree: 5.7% ($32,019)
- Graduate or professional degree: 5.2% ($46,538)

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Huw Williams (Huwmanbeing) // Wikimedia Commons

#17. Grayson County

- 10.5% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 18.6% ($21,285 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 43% ($29,464)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 28% ($32,174)
- Bachelor's degree: 6.4% ($41,211)
- Graduate or professional degree: 4.2% ($47,725)

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Huw Williams (Huwmanbeing) // Wikimedia Commons

#16. Edmonson County

- 10.3% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 21.9% ($26,400 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 39.3% ($27,188)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 28.5% ($31,605)
- Bachelor's degree: 5.6% ($50,625)
- Graduate or professional degree: 4.7% ($53,659)

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Nyttend // Wikimedia Commons

#15. Clinton County

- 10.3% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 26.8% ($30,938 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 39.8% ($23,690)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 23.2% ($26,233)
- Bachelor's degree: 5.8% ($36,250)
- Graduate or professional degree: 4.5% ($55,804)

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Bedford // Wikimedia Commons

#14. Webster County

- 10% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 17.5% ($25,765 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 47% ($33,750)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 25.4% ($32,821)
- Bachelor's degree: 6.9% ($42,237)
- Graduate or professional degree: 3.2% ($73,421)

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Nyttend // Wikimedia Commons

#13. Estill County

- 9.9% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 24.4% ($15,982 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 45.8% ($26,198)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 19.9% ($29,592)
- Bachelor's degree: 6.4% ($38,750)
- Graduate or professional degree: 3.5% ($56,650)

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Nyttend // Wikimedia Commons

#12. Lawrence County

- 9.8% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 24.9% ($27,604 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 42.5% ($26,250)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 22.8% ($30,363)
- Bachelor's degree: 4.6% ($43,464)
- Graduate or professional degree: 5.2% ($45,670)

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Nyttend // Wikimedia Commons

#11. Clay County

- 9.8% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 35.3% ($18,312 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 35.3% ($23,489)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 19.5% ($25,276)
- Bachelor's degree: 4.3% ($42,935)
- Graduate or professional degree: 5.6% ($55,489)

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Nyttend // Wikimedia Commons

#10. Elliott County

- 9.7% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 25% ($28,438 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 43.4% ($21,917)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 21.9% ($33,237)
- Bachelor's degree: 7.1% ($62,841)
- Graduate or professional degree: 2.7% ($44,875)

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Nyttend // Wikimedia Commons

#9. Magoffin County

- 9.5% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 30.2% ($22,708 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 36.4% ($24,128)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 23.8% ($31,250)
- Bachelor's degree: 4.7% ($38,844)
- Graduate or professional degree: 4.8% ($36,154)

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Nyttend // Wikimedia Commons

#8. Bell County

- 9.2% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 30.4% ($17,520 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 38.5% ($19,696)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 22% ($23,703)
- Bachelor's degree: 4.2% ($34,423)
- Graduate or professional degree: 4.9% ($53,423)

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C. Bedford Crenshaw // Wikimedia Commons

#7. Lewis County

- 9.1% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 24.1% ($22,292 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 42.8% ($26,941)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 23.9% ($29,398)
- Bachelor's degree: 5.1% ($37,083)
- Graduate or professional degree: 3.9% ($56,523)

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Nyttend // Wikimedia Commons

#6. Nicholas County

- 8.9% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 24.2% ($25,591 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 42.1% ($30,379)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 24.8% ($32,248)
- Bachelor's degree: 4.7% ($44,022)
- Graduate or professional degree: 4.2% ($65,000)

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Nyttend // Wikimedia Commons

#5. Wolfe County

- 8.7% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 28.2%
- High school graduate: 37.4% ($24,167)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 25.7% ($21,200)
- Bachelor's degree: 2.7% ($13,500)
- Graduate or professional degree: 6% ($85,112)

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Nyttend // Wikimedia Commons

#4. Leslie County

- 8.7% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 28.7% ($21,788 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 41.9% ($28,374)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 20.8% ($27,449)
- Bachelor's degree: 5.4% ($40,521)
- Graduate or professional degree: 3.3% ($50,694)

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W.marsh // Wikimedia Commons

#3. Lee County

- 8.3% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 31.9% ($25,182 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 36.3% ($27,991)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 23.5% ($27,188)
- Bachelor's degree: 4.3% ($45,625)
- Graduate or professional degree: 4% ($50,439)

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Smceuen // Wikimedia Commons

#2. Carroll County

- 8.2% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 21.7% ($16,957 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 40.3% ($33,448)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 29.8% ($36,667)
- Bachelor's degree: 5.4% ($53,403)
- Graduate or professional degree: 2.8% ($62,768)

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Kybluegrass // Wikimedia Commons

#1. McCreary County

- 7.2% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 23.4% ($10,922 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 40.9% ($27,488)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 28.4% ($21,158)
- Bachelor's degree: 4.7% ($47,917)
- Graduate or professional degree: 2.5%

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