School of Education


Doctor of Education (EdD)


Sarah Horne


Delayed Enrollment, Lifetime Income, Non-Traditional Students, Traditional Students


Education | Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research | Educational Psychology | Education Economics | Higher Education | Other Education


This study provides empirical evidence of enhancing an individual’s ability to make an informed decision about higher education. The purpose of the causal-comparative design was to observe the relationships between the time a student completes a college degree and their self-reported lifetime income while considering gender. A convenience sample of United States residents who earned a four-year (bachelors) degree from an accredited college or university was collected by a professional survey service. The sample size for final analysis was 799 respondents consisting of 32.67% males and 66.58% females. The results of the ANOVA indicated significant differences in lifetime income among the levels of traditional, non-traditional and traditional-plus students. The study concluded that the traditional students, who participated in this research, earned higher lifetime wages than their non-traditional or traditional-plus colleagues. The study also supported the literature that males earn more over their lifetime than females. However, many factors that affect a student’s college completion were not considered in this research, such as, societal influences, cultural pressures, or family history. Future studies should strive for stronger focus groups that take into account the individual’s economic status as well as the nation’s economic status within the same timeline. Future studies should also consider including a higher minority population and include a special emphasis on the challenges facing first-generation college students.