Education Spending Per Student Fell For First Time in 2011

Per pupil spending fell for the first time ever in fiscal year 2011, with 21 states reporting declines. See rankings and totals for each state.
by | May 22, 2013 AT 1:00 AM

Per pupil spending for public elementary and secondary education fell in fiscal year 2011 – the first ever recorded annual decline, according to Census Bureau data released today.

In all, the 50 states and the District of Columbia spent $10,560 per student, with more than three-quarters funding salaries and employee benefits. The decline represents only a 0.4 percent reduction from 2010, but it’s the first year-over-year decrease since the federal government began recording data in 1977.

Public spending fell by $873 per pupil in New Jersey, the largest yearly decline of any state, followed by Illinois (-$860) and Maine (-$820). A total of 21 states reported spending drops from 2010.

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Students in Alaska (+$891), New Hampshire (+$840) and Connecticut (+$694) saw spending rise the most, not adjusting for inflation.

The Census Bureau ranked states based on current spending, which does not include capital outlays, interest on debts and payments to other governments. The rankings didn’t change much from the previous data release, with New York replacing D.C. as the nation’s top spender. The following table shows current spending per pupil, by state:

Utah ($6,212), Idaho ($6,824) and Oklahoma ($7,587) spent the least per student in fiscal 2011.

Salary and benefits for instructional employees account for the largest share of spending. A smaller portion funds administrative costs, ranging from 13 percent of per pupil current spending in D.C. to 5.3 percent in Arizona.

Combined general and school administration costs per pupil were highest (as a percentage of total current spending) in the following states in fiscal 2011:

  • District of Columbia: 13 percent
  • Maine: 9.5 percent
  • Vermont: 9.4 percent
  • Illinois: 9.2 percent
  • North Dakota: 9.2 percent
  • New Hampshire: 9 percent
  • Colorado: 8.8 percent
  • Missouri: 8.71 percent
  • Mississippi: 8.69 percent
  • Oklahoma: 8.65 percent

On the revenue side, school districts reported slight growth as total revenues climbed 1 percent for the year. State funding, the largest source of education revenue, rose 3 percent, while money allocated by the federal government and localities declined by less than 1 percent each.

Federal funds accounted for the highest share of revenue in the following states: Mississippi (22.3 percent), South Dakota (20.3 percent), Louisiana (18.7 percent), Alaska (17.8 percent) and Florida (17.8 percent).

Select a state from the menu below to see how its expenditures and revenues per student fluctuated in recent years.

View the complete set of new data on the Census Bureau website.