Public Education Costs per Pupil by State Rankings

The United States  spent an average of $10,615 per pupil educating its young people in the nation’s elementary-secondary school systems in 2010. According to the report released by the U.S. Census Bureau, that translates into a small (1.1 percent) increase in per-pupil spending over 2009.

Where do schools get their money?

Schools are financed from three main sources: local, state and federal funds. For the 2009-2010 school year, total school revenues were 593.7 billion dollars. Broken down by revenue sources, here is how that total was reached:

  • Local Revenues: $261.4 billion (44 percent of total revenues)
  • State Revenues: $258.3 billion (43.5 percent of total revenues)
  • Federal Revenues: $74 billion (12.5 percent of total revenues)

Where are schools spending their money?

Of the $602.6 billion in budget spending by U.S. schools in the 2009-2010 school year, a relatively small amount, $19.3 billion, was spent on interest on debt and payments to other governments. Additionally, less than 10 percent ($56.1 billion) was spent on construction, land, existing structures and equipment. By far the largest amount (88.5 percent) was spent on a broad category called “current spending.” The $527.2 billion that falls into this category is divided as follows:

  • $317.8 billion: Instruction
  • $48.7 billion: Operation and Maintenance
  • $28.6 billion: Pupil Support Services
  • $27.8 billion: School Administration
  • $27.1 billion: Other Current Spending
  • $24.8 billion: Instructional Staff Support Services
  • $22.1 billion: Pupil Transportation
  • $17.5 billion: Other and Non-specified Support Services
  • $9.6 billion: General Administration.

The U.S. Census Bureau has released a bubble chart to illustrate these total income and expense areas.

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Costs per Pupil by State

Public Education by state rankings show that the District of Columbia spent the most per pupil at $18,687. The next top five are New York ($18,618), New Jersey ($16,841), Alaska ($15,783), Vermont ($15,274) and Wyoming ($15,169).

The states spending the least on a per-pupil basis are Oklahoma ($7,896), Arizona ($7,848), Idaho ($7,106) and Utah ($6,064).

Other notes of interest:

  • All nine states in the Northeast Region made the top 15 of per-pupil student spending.
  • Of 16 states with the lowest spending, 15 were in the South Region or the West Region.
  • Public school systems in North Dakota, Mississippi and New Mexico got more of their funding from the Federal Government.

Below is a complete list of public education by state rankings on a per-pupil spending basis. States are listed alphabetically:

Alabama: 8,881
Alaska: 15,783
Arizona: 7,848
Arkansas: 9,143
California: 9,375
Colorado: 8,853
Connecticut: 14,906
Delaware: 12,383
District of Columbia: 18,667
Florida: 8,741
Georgia: 9,394
Hawaii: 11,754
Idaho: 7,106
Illinois: 11,634
Indiana: 9,611
Iowa: 9,763
Kansas: 9,715
Kentucky: 8,948
Louisiana: 10,638
Maine: 12,259
Maryland: 13,738
Massachusetts: 14,350
Michigan: 10,644
Minnesota: 10,685
Mississippi: 8,119
Missouri: 9,634
Montana: 10,497
Nebraska: 10,734
Nevada: 8,483
New Hampshire: 12, 383
New Jersey: 16,841
New Mexico: 9,384
New York: 18,618
North Carolina: 8,409
North Dakota: 10,991
Ohio: 11,030
Oklahoma: 7,896
Oregon: 9,624
Pennsylvania: 12,995
Rhode Island: 13,699
South Carolina: 9,143
South Dakota: 8,858
Tennessee: 8,065
Texas: 8,746
Utah: 6,064
Vermont: 15,274
Virginia: 10,597
Washington: 9,452
West Virginia: 11,527
Wisconsin: 11,364
Wyoming: 15,169 

Specific budget spending details on a state-by-state basis can be accessed at the U.S. Census Bureau website.

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