Per pupil spending is the amount spent on education per student. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the amount spent per pupil for public elementary and secondary education increased by 3.4% during the 2018 fiscal year, making the sixth consecutive year of increased spending in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
U.S. Public Education Spending
In the United States, K-12 schools spend about $612.7 billion annually. This is about $12,612 per pupil. Federal, state, and local governments spend about $720.9 billion annually or $14,840 per pupil. The federal government provides 7.7% of funding, state governments provide 46.7%, and local governments provide 45.6%. On average, the U.S. spends $15,908 per pupil on postsecondary education and $33,063 per pupil on graduate and postgraduate education.
The United States allocates about 11.6% of public funding to education, below the international standard of 15%, and spends about 4.96% of its GDP on education, compared to the 5.59% average of other developed nations. The U.S. spends the fifth-highest amount per pupil compared to the 37 other OECD countries, behind Luxembourg, Switzerland, Austria, and Norway.
Per Pupil Spending by State
Public school spending varies greatly in different states and depends on several factors. One factor is the money that the schools are allocated, which directly correlates with how much the schools spend on students. Higher teacher salaries and benefits also lead to higher per-pupil spending, among several other factors.
For most states, instructional employee salaries and benefits account for at least half of the total per-pupil spending. Administrative expenses and support staff also account for some of the spending.
New York has the highest per-pupil spending of all of the 50 states. New York currently spends $24,040 per pupil, approximately 90% above the national average. Utah has the lowest per-pupil spending of $7,628 per student.
The ten states with the highest per pupil spending are:
- New York - $24,040
- District of Columbia - $22,759
- Connecticut - $20,635
- New Jersey - $20,021
- Vermont - $19,40
- Alaska - $17,726
- Massachusetts - $17,058
- New Hampshire - $16,893
- Pennsylvania - $16,395
- Wyoming - $16,224