The economic returns to education are well-documented. It is well-known that college graduates with certain majors will earn more than others and find it easier to land a job. But surprisingly, the courses students take in high school also make a difference, when the courses are mathematics.

The more math courses that students take in high school has also been shown to increase students’ likelihood of graduating from high school or attending college – resulting in higher future income. For example, more than 70 percent of the students who have taken courses beyond Algebra II will get a college degree. Unfortunately, about 75 percent of high school dropouts have usually only taken Pre-Algebra or Algebra I or less.

Findings of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland suggest that even students ending their formal education after high school can increase their future earnings by investing in more math courses while in high school.