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Indicators

Public School Revenue Sources
(Last Updated: March 2017)

Elementary and secondary public school revenues totaled $632 billion in school year 2013–14. Of this total, 9 percent of revenues were from federal sources, 46 percent were from state sources, and 45 percent were from local sources.

In school year 2013–14, elementary and secondary public school revenues totaled $632 billion, in constant 2015–16 dollars.1 Of this total, 9 percent, or $55 billion, were from federal sources; 46 percent, or $292 billion, were from state sources; and 45 percent, or $284 billion, were from local sources. In 2013–14, the percentages from each source differed across the states and the District of Columbia. For example, the percentages of total revenues coming from federal, state, and local sources in Illinois were 8 percent, 26 percent, and 66 percent, respectively, while the same total revenues in Vermont were 6 percent, 90 percent, and 4 percent.   

Total elementary and secondary public school revenues were 7 percent higher in 2013–14 than in 2003–04 ($632 billion versus $592 billion, in constant 2015–16 dollars). During this time, total revenues rose from $592 billion in 2003–04 to $658 billion in 2007–08 and then fell each year between 2008–09 and 2012–13. Total revenues then rose from $622 billion in 2012–13 to $632 billion in 2013–14. These changes were accompanied by a 3 percent increase in total elementary and secondary public school enrollment, from 49 million students in 2003–04 to 50 million students in 2013–14 (see indicator Elementary and Secondary Enrollment).


Figure 1. Revenues for public elementary and secondary schools, by revenue source: School years 2003–04 through 2013–14

Figure 1. Revenues for public elementary and secondary schools, by revenue source: School years 2003–04 through 2013–14


NOTE: Revenues are in constant 2015–16 dollars, adjusted using the Consumer Price Index (CPI). See Digest of Education Statistics 2016, table 106.70.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data (CCD),"National Public Education Financial Survey," 2003–04 through 2013–14. See Digest of Education Statistics 2016, table 235.10.


Federal revenues were 56 percent higher in 2009–10, the first school year after the passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, than in 2003–04 ($84 billion versus $54 billion). Federal revenues then decreased each year from 2009–10 through 2013–14, falling by 34 percent, to $55 billion, over this period. Local revenues increased by 10 percent, to $284 billion, from 2003–04 through 2013–14. State revenues fluctuated between $278 billion and $318 billion during this period and were higher in 2013–14 than in 2003–04 ($292 billion versus $278 billion). During this period, federal revenues peaked in 2009–10 at $84 billion, while local revenues peaked in 2008–09 at $288 billion and state revenues peaked in 2007–08 at $318 billion.

Between school years 2003–04 and 2013–14, the percentage of total revenues coming from federal sources fluctuated between 8 and 13 percent, accounting for 9 percent of total revenues in both 2003–04 and 2013–14. Local sources accounted for 45 percent of total revenues in both 2012–13 and 2013–14, their highest percentages in the 2003–04 to 2013–14 period. The percentage of total revenues from state sources was 1 percentage point lower in 2013–14 than in 2003–04 (46 percent versus 47 percent). From school year 2003–04 through school year 2013–14, the percentage of revenues from state sources was highest in 2007–08 (48 percent) and lowest in 2009–10 (43 percent).

More recently, from school year 2012–13 through school year 2013–14, total revenues for public elementary and secondary schools increased by $10 billion (2 percent) in constant 2015–16 dollars (from $622 billion to $632 billion). Between these years, federal revenues declined by $2 billion (4 percent) and state revenues increased by $11 billion (4 percent). Local revenues increased by $1.5 billion (1 percent), reflecting a $1.6 billion (1 percent) increase in revenues from local property taxes, a $0.2 billion (0.4 percent) increase in other local public revenues, and a $0.2 billion (2 percent) decrease in private revenues.2

In school year 2013–14, there were significant variations across the states in the percentages of public school revenues coming from state, local, and federal sources. In 23 states, at least half of education revenues came from state governments, while in 14 states and the District of Columbia at least half came from local revenues. In the remaining 13 states, no single revenue source made up more than half of education revenues.


Figure 2. State revenues for public elementary and secondary schools as a percentage of total public school revenues, by state: School year 2013–14

Figure 2. State revenues for public elementary and secondary schools as a percentage of total public school revenues, by state: School year 2013–14


NOTE: All 50 states and the District of Columbia are included in the U.S. average, even though the District of Columbia does not receive any state revenue. The District of Columbia and Hawaii have only one school district each; therefore, neither is comparable to the other states. Categorizations are based on unrounded percentages. Excludes revenues for state education agencies.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data (CCD),"National Public Education Financial Survey," 2013–14. See Digest of Education Statistics 2016, table 235.20.


In school year 2013–14, the percentages of public school revenues coming from state sources were highest in Vermont and Hawaii (90 and 87 percent, respectively) and lowest in South Dakota and Illinois (31 and 26 percent, respectively). The percentages of revenues coming from federal sources were highest in Louisiana and Mississippi (15 percent each) and lowest in Connecticut and New Jersey (4 percent each). Among all states, the percentages of revenues coming from local sources were highest in Illinois and New Hampshire (66 and 60 percent, respectively), and lowest in Vermont and Hawaii (4 and 2 percent, respectively). Ninety percent of the revenues for the District of Columbia were from local sources; the remaining 10 percent were from federal sources.


Figure 3. Property tax revenues for public elementary and secondary schools as a percentage of total public school revenues, by state: School year 2013–14

Figure 3. Property tax revenues for public elementary and secondary schools as a percentage of total public school revenues, by state: School year 2013–14


NOTE: All 50 states and the District of Columbia are included in the U.S. average. The District of Columbia and Hawaii have only one school district each; therefore, neither is comparable to the other states. Categorizations are based on unrounded percentages.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data (CCD),"National Public Education Financial Survey," 2013–14. See Digest of Education Statistics 2016, table 235.20.


On a national basis in 2013–14, some $227 billion, or 81 percent, of local revenues for public and elementary secondary school districts were derived from local property taxes. The percentages of total revenues from local property taxes differed by state. In 2013–14, Illinois and New Hampshire had the highest percentages of revenues from property taxes (58 and 57 percent, respectively). Vermont and Hawaii3 had the lowest percentages of revenues from property taxes (0.1 percent and 0 percent, respectively).


1 Revenues in this indicator are adjusted for inflation using the Consumer Price Index, or CPI. For this indicator, the CPI is adjusted to a school-year basis. The CPI is prepared by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor.
2 Private revenues consist of tuition and fees from patrons and revenues from gifts.
3 Hawaii has only one school district, which receives no funding from property taxes.


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