Education Spending By State

education spending by state
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How much does your state spend on education, and where does that money go? How does your state stack up against others? When it comes to investing in the education of the elementary and secondary students, not all states are the same. There is a substantial range between top and bottom spending states when it comes to education spending. Parents and taxpayers alike have a vested interest in understanding how many of their tax dollars are allocated to education, and how that money is distributed.

Spending Statistics

Nationally, state education spending is increasing, according to the latest information available from the U.S. Census Bureau. The amount spent per pupil for public elementary-secondary education for all 50 states and the District of Columbia increased by 3.2% to $11,762 during the 2016 fiscal year. The increase in spending in 2016 was due in part to the increase in revenue across all 50 states and the District of Columbia. In 2016, public elementary-secondary education revenue, from all sources, amounted to $670.9 billion, up 4.6% from the prior year, marking the largest increase since 2007.

Among states, New York ($22,366), the District of Columbia ($19,159), Connecticut ($18,958), New Jersey ($18,402) and Vermont ($17,873) spent the most for education per pupil in 2016. California (9.8%), Washington (7.4%), Hawaii (7.0%), Utah (5.8%) and New York (5.5%) led the way with the largest percentage increases in current spending per pupil from 2015 to 2016. On a national average, education funding is generated from federal (8.1%), state (47.4%) and local (44.5%) sources.

Reasons for Variation by State

There are several reasons for variations in education spending between states. One of them is revenue. School districts tend to spend the money allocated to them, with those more reliant on state funds typically spending less than those school districts with greater revenue, derived from higher property taxes generated from more expensive properties.

In terms of expenditure requirements, teacher salaries and benefits top the list in every state. They vary for reasons such as:

  • Local labor market conditions,
  • The influence of teacher unions
  • Class size (the larger the class, the lower the cost per pupil)
  • Demographics (states with a high percentage of school-age children such as Utah try to squeeze more of them in the class)
  • Administration costs
  • Education policy at the state or local level

So, how does your state compare? Let’s take a look at the statistics by state from the 2016 Census and how states are spending their budgets.

Educational Spending per Student - Top 10 States (Including DC)

1. New York

  • Total Expenditure: $22,366
  • Instruction Spending per Pupil: $15,746
  • Support Services per Pupil: $6,130

2. District of Columbia

  • Total Expenditure: $19,159
  • Instruction Spending per Pupil: $10,758
  • Support Services per Pupil: $7,637

3. Connecticut

  • Total Expenditure: $18,958
  • Instruction Spending per Pupil: $11,656
  • Support Services per Pupil: $6,621

4. New Jersey

  • Total Expenditure: $18,402
  • Instruction Spending per Pupil: $10,716
  • Support Services per Pupil: $6,999

5. Vermont

  • Total Expenditure: $17,873
  • Instruction Spending per Pupil: $10,720
  • Support Services per Pupil: $6,629

6. Alaska

  • Total Expenditure: $17,510
  • Instruction Spending per Pupil: $9,449
  • Support Services per Pupil: $7,427

7. Wyoming

  • Total Expenditure: $16,442
  • Instruction Spending per Pupil: $9,750
  • Support Services per Pupil: $6,197

8. Massachusetts

  • Total Expenditure: $15,593
  • Instruction Spending per Pupil: $9,713
  • Support Services per Pupil: $5,396

9. Rhode Island

  • Total Expenditure: $15,532
  • Instruction Spending per Pupil: $9,035
  • Support Services per Pupil: $6,065

10. Pennsylvania

  • Total Expenditure: $15,418
  • Instruction Spending per Pupil: $9,446
  • Support Services per Pupil: $5,383

Educational Spending per Student - Bottom 10 States (Including DC)

42. Texas

  • Total Expenditure: $9,016
  • Instruction Spending per Pupil: $5,514
  • Support Services per Pupil: $3,002

43. Nevada

  • Total Expenditure: $8,960
  • Instruction Spending per Pupil: $5,183
  • Support Services per Pupil: $3,409

44. Florida

  • Total Expenditure: $8,920
  • Instruction Spending per Pupil: $5,478
  • Support Services per Pupil: $2,984

45. Tennessee

  • Total Expenditure: $8,810
  • Instruction Spending per Pupil: $5,406
  • Support Services per Pupil: $2,917

46. North Carolina

  • Total Expenditure: $8,792
  • Instruction Spending per Pupil: $5,513
  • Support Services per Pupil: $2,806

47. Mississippi

  • Total Expenditure: $8,702
  • Instruction Spending per Pupil: $4,951
  • Support Services per Pupil: $3,190

48. Oklahoma

  • Total Expenditure: $8,097
  • Instruction Spending per Pupil: $4,528
  • Support Services per Pupil: $2,989

49. Arizona

  • Total Expenditure: $7,613
  • Instruction Spending per Pupil: $4,077
  • Support Services per Pupil: $3,105

50. Idaho

  • Total Expenditure: $7,157
  • Instruction Spending per Pupil: $4,262
  • Support Services per Pupil: $2,508

51. Utah

  • Total Expenditure: $6,953
  • Instruction Spending per Pupil: $4,467
  • Support Services per Pupil: $2,098

Ultimately, the amount spent on education is only part of the discussion. We also need to better understand if the education system is delivering the desired results, both in terms of direct learning outcomes, as well as within the broader context of social and economic aspirations.

To drill deeper into your state’s education policies, visit your state governor website.

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