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Public School Expenditures
(Last Updated: April 2014)

From 2000–01 to 2010–11, current expenditures per student in public elementary and secondary schools increased by 14 percent, after adjusting for inflation. Current expenditures per student in 2010–11 ($11,153) decreased from the amount expended per student in 2009–10 ($11,353).

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.


Figure 1. Total 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

Figure 1. Total 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

NOTE: "Current expenditures," "Capital outlay," and "Interest on school debt" are subcategories of "Total expenditures." "Capital outlay" includes expenditures for property and for buildings and alterations completed by school district staff or contractors. Expenditures are reported in constant 2012–13 dollars, based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI).
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data (CCD), "National Public Education Financial Survey," selected years 2000–01, 2005–06, 2009–10, and 2010–11. See Digest of Education Statistics 2013, table 236.60.


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).

Interest payments on school debt per student in fall enrollment increased by 33 percent (from $285 to $379 in constant 2012–13 dollars) during the same period of 2000–01 to 2010–11, and the amount for 2009–10 ($373) was lower than the amount for 2010–11. Capital outlay expenditures per student in 2010–11 ($1,076) were 17 percent lower than the 2000–01 amount ($1,290) and 12 percent lower than the 2009–10 amount ($1,225); however, there were some fluctuations during this period.


Figure 2. 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

Figure 2. 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

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).
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data (CCD), "National Public Education Financial Survey," selected years 2000–01, 2005–06, 2009–10, and 2010–11. See Digest of Education Statistics 2013, table 236.60.


In addition to being reported by type, 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.


Figure 3. Percentage of current expenditures per student in fall enrollment in public elementary and secondary schools nationwide, by type of expenditure: 2000–01, 2005–06, 2009–10, and 2010–11

Figure 3. Percentage of current expenditures per student in fall enrollment in public elementary and secondary schools nationwide, by type of expenditure: 2000–01, 2005–06, 2009–10, and 2010–11

NOTE: All percentages are based on constant 2012–13 dollars, adjusted using the Consumer Price Index (CPI). Detail may not sum to totals because of rounding.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data (CCD), "National Public Education Financial Survey," selected years 2000–01, 2005–06, 2009–10, and 2010–11. See Digest of Education Statistics 2013, table 236.60.


Current expenditures for education can also be expressed in terms of the percentage of funds going toward salaries and benefits for all staff or for supplies for all activities. On a national basis in 2010–11, approximately 80 percent of current expenditures were for salaries and benefits for staff. Approximately 10 percent of current expenditures were for purchased services, which include a wide variety of items, such as contracts for food, transportation, or janitorial services, or for professional development for teachers. Generally speaking, this expenditure distribution shifted only slightly from 2000–01 to 2010–11, when expenditures for purchased services increased from 9 to 10 percent. Eight percent of school expenditures were for supplies, ranging from books to heating oil. The percentages of expenditures for tuition and for supplies changed less than one percentage point. For expenditures on supplies, there were small fluctuations in this percentage during the period. There were, however, shifts within the distribution of the labor costs for staff, as the proportion of school budgets for staff salaries decreased from 64 percent in 2000–01 to 59 percent in 2010–11, and the proportion of staff benefits increased from 17 to 21 percent during this period.


Glossary terms: Consumer Price Index (CPI), Current expenditures (elementary/secondary), Expenditures, Public school or institution, Salary
Data Source: Common Core Data (CCD)


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National Center for Education Statistics - http://nces.ed.gov
U.S. Department of Education