The more education a person has is strongly correlated with how confident they are about their retirement and their ability to save and plan for it, according to the 11th Annual Transamerica Retirement Survey, released on Thursday.

The survey, which was conducted with 3,598 full and part-time American workers between Dec. 3,2009 and January 18, 2010, found that workers with lower levels of education are at a disadvantage when it comes to saving and planning for retirement. Only 60% of those with a high school diploma have been offered a 401(k) or other retirement plan by their employer, compared to 71% of workers with some college education, 78% of workers with a college degree and 83% with post graduate education.

Even those with access to a workplace retirement plan show differences in participation and contribution rates based on their education levels. Sixty-three percent of those with only a high school education participate in a 401(k) or other plan, compared to 77% with some college, 84% with a college degree, and 87% with at least some post graduate education. In addition, those with lower education levels contribute less. In addition, those with only a high school education only contribute a median of 5%, while those with a college degree contribute 8%. 

Workers with lower education levels are also less confident in their ability to retire, which may affect how much they contribute. Only 40% of high school graduates (without any college) are confident about retirement, while 53% of college graduates and 64% of those with a post graduate education are confident. And 48%  of high school graduates without any college education plan to work past age 70 or not retire at all.

“While workers with higher education levels tend to have natural advantages, such as higher salaries, nothing can replace the advantages gained by factoring in retirement benefits when considering job opportunities, getting educated on investing fundamentals, setting a retirement savings goal, and developing a strategy to reach that goal,” said Catherine Collinson, president of the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies, in a statement.  

Transamerica’s recommendations to help those at all education levels feel more confident about retirement are to promote available tax incentives, such as the Saver’s Credit and Catch-Up Contributions, improve financial and retirement literacy at the junior high and high school level, and expand retirement plan coverage especially for lower paid and less educated workers through regulatory reform and new legislation.