Just the Facts: Sources and Uses of Public Education Dollars

Published December 1, 2002

Total expenditures on U.S. K-12 public education and other related programs in the 1999-2000 school year were $381.9 billion, up an impressive $26.1 billion, or 7.3 percent, from 1998-99. Total revenues for the same period were 97.6 percent of total expenditures, or $9.0 billion lower at $372.9 billion. Current expenditures, the most common way of reporting public school expenditures, were 84.8 percent of total expenditures, or $58.1 billion lower at $323.8 billion. Total expenditures per student in 1999-2000 were up $504 from 1998-99 to $8,151, or 6.6 percent higher.

Where the Money Comes From

Almost half (49.5 percent) of the $372.9 billion in revenues came from state sources. Another 43.2 percent came from local and intermediate sources, with the federal government providing just 7.3 percent, or $27.1 billion.

Among states with more than one school district, the state share of revenues varied from just 29.1 percent in Nevada to 73.6 percent in Vermont and 71.5 percent in New Mexico. Just two years earlier, the state share of revenues in Vermont was less than 30 percent. Federal revenues ranged from 3.9 percent in New Jersey to 15.4 percent in Alaska.

Where the Money Goes

Of the $381.9 billion in total expenditures, the vast majority (84.8 percent) went to current expenditures for school operations, with the current expenditure dollar going roughly two-thirds to instruction and one-third to support services. Just 2.4 percent of total expenditures went to debt service, with another 9.3 percent going for facility construction/renovation and another 2.1 percent for replacement equipment.

As a share of total expenditures, the following variations are seen at the state level: current expenditures, from 72.3 percent in Arizona to 95.7 percent in Rhode Island; facility construction/renovation, from 0.6 percent in Rhode Island to 18.6 percent in Arizona; debt service, from 0.6 percent in West Virginia to 6.9 percent in Indiana.

For more information …

see the accompanying table.

Also see the National Center for Education Statistics, Statistics in Brief May 2002, Revenues and Expenditures for Public Elementary and Secondary Education: School Year 1999-2000 http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2002/2002367.pdf