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 in 201314 amounted to $634 billion, or $12,509 per public school student enrolled in the fall (in constant 201516 dollars). Total expenditures included $11,222 per student in current expenditures, which includes salaries, employee benefits, purchased services, and supplies. Total expenditures also included $939 per student in capital outlay (expenditures for property and for buildings and alterations completed by school district staff or contractors) and $348 for interest on school debt.
Current expenditures per student enrolled in the fall in public elementary and secondary schools were 5 percent higher in 201314 than in 200304 ($11,222 and $10,641 respectively, both in constant 201516 dollars). Current expenditures per student peaked in 200809 at $11,699 and then decreased each year until 201213. Current expenditures per pupil then increased 1 percent from 201213 to 201314 ($11,093 and $11,222, respectively). Interest payments on school debt per student were 1 percent higher in 201314 than in 200304 in constant 201516 dollars. Interest payments increased from $345 in 200304 to $391 in 201011, before declining to $348 in 201314. Capital outlay expenditures per student in 201314 ($939) were 30 percent lower than in 200304 ($1,338). Capital outlay expenditures per student increased 13 percent from 200304 to 200708 ($1,517) before declining 38 percent from 200708 to 201314.
Current expenditures, interest payments, and capital outlays per student in fall enrollment in public elementary and secondary schools, by type of expenditure: 200304 through 201314
NOTE: "Current expenditures", Capital outlay, and Interest on school debt are subcategories of total expenditures. Current expenditures include instruction, support services, food services, and enterprise operations (expenditures for operations funded by sales of products and services). Capital outlay includes expenditures for property and for buildings and alterations completed by school district staff or contractors. Expenditures are reported in constant 201516 dollars, based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI).
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. (2017). The Condition of Education 2017 (NCES 2017-144), Public School Expenditures.
Current expenditures for education can be expressed in terms of the percentage of funds going toward salaries, benefits, purchased services, or supplies. On a national basis in 201314, approximately 80 percent of current expenditures were for salaries and benefits for staff, compared to 81 percent in 200304. There were, however, shifts within the distribution of salaries and benefits for staff, as the proportion of current expenditures for staff salaries decreased from 63 percent in 200304 to 58 percent in 201314, and the proportion for staff benefits increased from 18 to 22 percent during this period. Approximately 11 percent of current expenditures were for purchased services, which include a wide variety of items, such as contracts for food, transportation, and janitorial services, and for professional development for teachers. The percentage of expenditure distribution going toward purchased services shifted only slightly from 200304 to 201314, increasing from 9 to 11 percent. Eight percent of school expenditures in 201314 were for supplies, ranging from books to heating oil. The percentage of current expenditures for supplies changed less than 1 percentage point from 200304 to 201314.
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