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Pencils down! While students covered by auto insurance policies are not evaluated directly on their driving, their grades do matter. GPA is used as a proxy for risk, and high marks could save you a pretty penny.

Click here to see the States With the Smartest Drivers report for 2020.

The school year is winding down and summer is fast upon us. While the most critical aspects of an education are the skills and relationships gained along the way, the grades one earns can have financial consequences beyond just prospective post-grad salaries.

Many insurance companies use high GPAs as indicators that one is a safe driver, and therefore less likely to file a costly claim in the future. Once they predict that a driver will be less expensive to insure, they offer them a coveted good student discount.

Young adulthood is a minefield of exorbitant expenses running the gamut from student loans to first apartments. There’s no reason not to jump at every opportunity for savings during this time, which is why it can be wise to compare car insurance policies to maximize available discounts on sites like Insurify. So with that in mind, let’s check out the states with the strongest showings for good student discounts.


Smartest State in America - Drivers Average GPA

  • National averages. Nationwide, the average grade point average is 3.23. On a four-point scale, a 4.0 represents a student whose coursework earned straight As, and a 3.0 indicates a pupil who earned a B average. Additionally, the national average graduation rate is 84.6 percent, the mean ACT score is 20.8 out of 36, the average SAT score is 1068 out of 1600, and the national truancy rate is seven percent.

  • ACT and SAT are regional giants. There is a moderate inverse correlation between mean scores on the SAT and ACT per state. This means that states with a high average score on one test tend to perform somewhat less optimally on the other. However, this is not due to the fact that these exams test markedly different skill sets—individual students who perform well on one tend to score highly on the other as well. It is a result of each standardized assessment being popular in separate regions. The SAT has historically dominated the coasts while the ACT has held favor in the Midwest. The gap in state averages on these evaluations likely reflect different relationships with one test compared to the other and not a gulf in aptitude.

  • Performance is a package deal. All of the factors reported here—GPA, standardized test scores, graduation rates, and school attendance—are interrelated. Those states with higher graduation rates and lower truancy also witness relatively stronger grades and standardized test scores. Successful schools require strong investment in students on multiple fronts.


To determine the states whose drivers have the strongest GPAs and therefore the best standing in terms of good student car insurance discounts, the data science and research team at Insurify, a car insurance comparison website, turned to their database of over 1.6 million insurance applications. In applying for coverage, motorists identify if they or any other driver on their policy is a student, and if so, report their corresponding grade point averages. These were then aggregated and averaged by state. Alaska was excluded from analysis for insufficient data. Statistics on graduation rates originate from the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics 2017 report, ACT scores are from the 2018 Condition of College and Career Readiness report, 2018 SAT statistics are reported by the College Board, and 2017 truancy rates are disclosed by the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Kids Count Data Center. Truancy is defined as the rate of teenagers aged 16-19 neither attending school nor working in each state.

10. Idaho

  • Average GPA: 3.259

  • High School Graduation Rate: 79.7%

  • Average ACT Score: 22.3

  • Average SAT Score: 1001

  • Percentage of teens who are neither working nor in school: 6%

Kicking off our list is Idaho, with an average GPA of 3.259. Home to only 15 colleges and universities, Idaho is nonetheless here to prove its academic merit by ranking within the top 10 states with the highest grades nationwide. However, this strong average GPA does not translate to stellar scholastic statistics across the board. Idaho ranks within the bottom 10 states for graduation rate and within the bottom five for average SAT scores.

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9. North Dakota

  • Average GPA: 3.260

  • High School Graduation Rate: 87.2%

  • Average ACT Score: 20.3

  • Average SAT Score: 1283

  • Percentage of teens who are neither working nor in school: 4%

We proceed to North Dakota, a state that boasts one of the highest average GPAs in the country at 3.26. Not only that, but the Roughrider state also claims the highest mean SAT score on this list and the third highest in the country overall, trailing only fellow northern states, Minnesota and Wisconsin. To round out these impressive accomplishments, North Dakota also has the lowest truancy rate nationwide along with Massachusetts and Minnesota.

8. Colorado

  • Average GPA: 3.260

  • High School Graduation Rate: 79.1%

  • Average ACT Score: 23.9

  • Average SAT Score: 1025

  • Percentage of teens who are neither working nor in school: 5%

Following the noteworthy performance of North Dakota’s students, Colorado’s statistics are more of a mixed bag. On the one hand, the state is within the top 10 in the U.S. for GPA, high ACT scores, and low rates of truancy. However, on the other, it is also within the bottom 10 for average SAT scores and high school graduation rate, the latter being the lowest on this top 10 ranking.

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7. New Jersey

  • Average GPA: 3.263

  • High School Graduation Rate: 90.5%

  • Average ACT Score: 23.7

  • Average SAT Score: 1094

  • Percentage of teens who are neither working nor in school: 7%

Home to two of the 15 oldest universities in the nation, Princeton and Rutgers, New Jersey has a long legacy of top-tier education. Continuing that legacy, the Garden State claims the eighth position on this list. Not only does New Jersey fall within the top 10 states in America for mean GPA, but it also possesses the second highest graduation rate in the country. Nine out of 10 New Jersey high school students go on to graduate—ranking it the highest of any state in this top 10.

6. New York

  • Average GPA: 3.268

  • High School Graduation Rate: 81.8%

  • Average ACT Score: 24.5

  • Average SAT Score: 1068

  • Percentage of teens who are neither working nor in school: 6%

New York is known as a state of opportunity, and that opportunity begins in the classroom. Along with an impressive GPA, the state also touts the fourth highest average ACT score in the United States. This is an interesting accomplishment, as the vast majority of students in New York take the SAT as their standardized test of choice. When New Yorkers go out of their way to take the ACT, it appears that they mean business.

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5. West Virginia

  • Average GPA: 3.269

  • High School Graduation Rate: 89.4%

  • Average ACT Score: 20.3

  • Average SAT Score: 999

  • Percentage of teens who are neither working nor in school: 11%

West Virginia is known for scenic roadways that wind through beautiful Appalachian landscapes. But how smart are the drivers who traverse them? It depends on which statistics you consider. The state has one of the highest mean GPAs in America along with one of the top 10 graduation rates in the country. That being said, the Mountain state also has the second lowest SAT score and the highest truancy rate nationwide.

4. Hawaii

  • Average GPA: 3.277

  • High School Graduation Rate: 82.7%

  • Average ACT Score: 18.9

  • Average SAT Score: 1099

  • Percentage of teens who are neither working nor in school: 9%

As one of the states in the direst need of road repair according to TRIP, Hawaii drivers have to be smart when navigating unmaintained rural roadways. Luckily, their reported average GPA ranks them amongst the top five smartest states in the country. Unfortunately, the good news ends there. Hawaii has the lowest mean ACT score on this list and the fifth lowest in the United States. Additionally, the state has one of the highest truancy rates in America—nearly 30 percent higher than the national average.

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3. New Hampshire

  • Average GPA: 3.296

  • High School Graduation Rate: 88.9%

  • Average ACT Score: 25.1

  • Average SAT Score: 1063

  • Percentage of teens who are neither working nor in school: 5%

Students in New Hampshire have a great deal about which to be proud. Not only do they have one of the highest average GPAs in the country, but they also have the third highest ACT scores, one of the lowest rates of truancy, and the tenth highest graduation rate nationwide. In fact, their average ACT score is a full 21 percent higher than the national mean and their share of teenagers who are neither working nor in school is almost 30 percent lower.

2. Utah

  • Average GPA: 3.315

  • High School Graduation Rate: 86.0%

  • Average ACT Score: 20.4

  • Average SAT Score: 1230

  • Percentage of teens who are neither working nor in school: 6%

The Beehive State is the first on this list to break a B+ average GPA. Not only that, but Utah’s graduation rate, SAT scores, and truancy rate are all better than the national statistics. That being said, there is far from universal support for standardized evaluations in the state. This report comes in the midst of controversy over parents increasingly opting students out of end-of-the-year exams and new legislation that allows educators to incentivize students’ effort and participation in response.

1. Massachusetts

  • Average GPA: 3.337

  • High School Graduation Rate: 88.3%

  • Average ACT Score: 25.5

  • Average SAT Score: 1125

  • Percentage of teens who are neither working nor in school: 4%

Massachusetts is an academic giant, with nearly 100 colleges and universities located within 50 miles of Boston alone. Living up to this lofty reputation, the Bay State also reports the highest average GPA in the country. Not only this, but the state’s mean ACT score, 25.5, is the second highest nationwide at 23 percent higher than the national score. Moreover, Massachusetts has a truancy rate of only four percent—57 percent lower than the national share and the lowest in America overall.

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Insurify Insights
Insurify InsightsData & Research Team

Insurify’s team of data scientists and content specialists presents Insurify Insights, a series of automotive, home, and health studies focusing on the topics that impact us all. Through expert analysis of over 4 million car insurance applications and an array of top data sources, the Insurify Insights team produces new data-driven articles, trend analyses, regional superlatives, and national rankings every week. See Insurify Insights as featured in Forbes, Fox News, USA Today, NPR, and more.