The United States spent an average of $11,621 per pupil educating its young people in the nation’s elementary-secondary school systems in fiscal 2014. According to the most recent data available by the U.S. Census Bureau, this is the largest increase in per pupil spending since 2008, when the U.S. spent a reported $11,009 per pupil.
Where do schools get their money?
Schools are financed from three main sources: local, state and federal funds. For the 2013-2014 school year, total school revenues were $617.6 billion, the largest increase since 2008. The bulk of the revenue increase came from state and local sources. The federal share of elementary-secondary revenue declined from $59.5 billion, or 10 percent of total revenue in 2012, to $52.9billion and 8.6 percent of total revenue in 2014.
Broken down by revenue sources, here is how that total was reached:
- Local revenues: $276.2 billion (44.7 percent of total revenues)
- State revenues: $288.6 billion (46.7 percent of total revenues)
- Federal revenues: $52.9 billion (8.6 percent of total revenues)
Where are schools spending their money?
Of the $617 billion in budget spending by U.S. schools for the 2042 fiscal year, a relatively small amount, $17.4 billion, was spent on interest on debt and payments to other governments. Additionally, less than 10 percent ($47.5 billion) was spent on construction, land, existing structures and equipment. By far the largest amount was spent on a broad category called “current spending.” The $546.6 billion that falls into this category is divided as follows:
- $330.4 billion: Instruction
- $59.9 billion: Operation and maintenance
- $29.9 billion: Pupil support services
- $29.4 billion: School administration
- $24.6 billion: Instructional staff support services
- $23.9 billion: Pupil transportation
- $18.9 billion: Other and non-specified support services
- $10.1 billion: General administration.
Costs per student by state
Public education by state rankings show that New York spent the most per pupil at $20,610. The next top five are District of Columbia ($18,485), Alaska ($18,416), New Jersey ($17,907), Connecticut ($17,745) and Vermont ($16,988).
The states spending the least on a per-pupil basis in 2012 are Mississippi ($8,263), Oklahoma ($7,829), Arizona ($7,528), Idaho ($6,621) and Utah ($6,500). Other notes of interest:
- States with the highest spending on instruction salaries in 2014 were District of Columbia, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Vermont
- States with the lowest spending on overall instruction in 2014 were Utah, Idaho, Oklahoma, Arizona and Mississippi.
- States that received the highest percentage of funding from federal sources in 2014 were Louisiana (15.3%), Mississippi (14.9%), South Dakota (13.9%), Arizona (13.3%) and New Mexico (12.9%)
- The top school districts for per pupil spending were Boston City Schools ($21,567), New York City School District ($21,154), Anchorage School District in Alaska at ($15,596), Baltimore City Schools ($15,564) and Howard County Schools in Maryland ($15,358).
Here is a complete list of public education by state rankings on a per-pupil spending basis. States are listed alphabetically:
District of Columbia: $18,485
New Hampshire: $14,335
New Jersey: $17,907
New Mexico: $9,734
New York: $20,610
North Carolina: $8,512
North Dakota: $12,358
Rhode Island: $14,767
South Carolina: $9,732
South Dakota: $8,881
West Virginia: $11,260
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- "Public School System Finances," U.S. Census Bureau | Public Elementary–Secondary Education Finance Data