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How much money does the United States spend on public elementary and secondary schools?

Total expenditures for public elementary and secondary schools in the United States amounted to $632 billion in 2010–11, or $12,608 per public school student (in constant 2012–13 dollars, based on the Consumer Price Index). These expenditures include $11,153 per student in current expenditures for operation of schools; $1,076 for capital outlay (i.e., expenditures for property and for buildings and alterations completed by school district staff or contractors); and $379 for interest on school debt.

From 2000–01 to 2010–11, current expenditures per student enrolled in the fall in public elementary and secondary schools increased by 14 percent (from $9,751 to $11,153 in constant 2012–13 dollars). The amount for 2010–11, however, was lower than the amount for 2009–10 ($11,353).

Current expenditures per student in fall enrollment in public elementary and secondary schools nationwide, in constant 2012–13 dollars, by type of expenditure: 2000–01, 2005–06, 2009–10, and 2010–11

The data in this figure is described in the surrounding text.

NOTE: "Instruction," "Student support," "Instructional staff services," "Operation and maintenance," "Administration," "Transportation," and "Food services" are subcategories of "Current expenditures." "Student support" includes expenditures for guidance, health, attendance, and speech pathology services. "Instructional staff services" include expenditures for curriculum development, staff training, libraries, and media and computer centers. "Administration" includes both general administration and school administration. "Transportation" refers to student transportation. Expenditures are reported in constant 2012–13 dollars, based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI).

Current expenditures are also reported by function, which refers to costs associated with different operational aspects of the reported current expenditures. Per student current expenditures (in constant 2012–13 dollars) increased for most functions between 2000–01 and 2010–11, although expenditures for most functions were lower in 2010–11 than in 2009–10. Instruction—the single largest component of current expenditures—made up about 61 percent of the total, or $6,823, per student in 2010–11. Instruction expenditures include salaries and benefits of teachers and teaching assistants as well as costs for instructional materials and instructional services provided under contract. Between 2000–01 and 2010–11, expenditures per student for instruction increased by 14 percent (from $6,000 to $6,823), though they were lower in 2010–11 than in 2009–10 ($6,950). Expenditures between 2000–01 and 2010–11 for many major school functions increased more rapidly. For example, expenditures per student for student support services, such as guidance and health personnel, increased by 28 percent (from $484 to $621). Expenditures per student for instructional staff services, including curriculum development, staff training, libraries, and media and computer centers, increased by 18 percent, reaching $526 in 2010–11, although they were lower than in 2009–10 ($543). In general, expenditures in other categories also increased between 2000–01 and 2010–11.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. (2014). The Condition of Education 2014 (NCES 2014-083), Public School Expenditures.

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National Center for Education Statistics -
U.S. Department of Education