People with GEDs make less money than those with high school diplomas.

A General Education Diploma, commonly referred to as a GED, is a series of tests you can pass to certify that you have met a high school level of education. It takes the place of a high school diploma. If you are wondering whether to get your GED or stay in school, consider the future consequences before making your decision.

Financial Decisions

If you are considering whether to get your GED or stay in school because of financial concerns, in the long run you are better off staying in school and getting a high school diploma. According to a 2009 study conducted by the United States Census Bureau, GED holders made on average $1,600 less a month than people with high school diplomas. However, it appears to be better to have a GED than no diploma at all. People with GEDs made $700 more a month than people with only some high school education.

College Considerations

If you are considering going to college in the future, you would be better off receiving your high school diploma. In addition to earning less money, people with GEDs are less likely to go to college than those with traditional high school diplomas. According to the United States Census Bureau study, while 73 percent of people who received high school diplomas completed at least some secondary education, only 43 percent of people with GEDs did. Only 5 percent of GED holders earned a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to 33 percent of people with high school diplomas.

Evaluating Grades

The reason that most people get their GEDs is that they are not doing well in high school and are considering dropping out. If you are failing the majority of your classes and need to repeat a grade, it may be worth doing so because of the financial and educational benefits of receiving a high school diploma. However, if you have already failed one or several grades, it might be a better choice to get your GED rather than receive no degree at all. Be aware that you need to understand high school level material to pass your GED. If you are failing classes, you may find it just as difficult to get your GED as a traditional diploma.

Learning a Trade

Another reason that some people consider getting a GED is because they plan to apprentice in a trade or other profession that doesn’t require a high school diploma. For example, if you have a father who is an auto mechanic, you may decide to work in his shop instead of completing high school. However, you never know what the future may bring. According to a 2012 report by "National Public Radio," employers are likelier to choose candidates with high school diplomas. If you are doing well in school, why not take the extra year or two to finish your classes and receive your degree? You can always apprentice after school and during the summer.