America spends over $550 billion a year on public elementary and secondary education in the United States. On average, school districts spend $10,658 for each individual student, although per pupil expenditures vary greatly among states, school districts and individual schools. Spending also differs among school districts in the same state and among schools within the same district.
All three levels of government—federal, state, and local—contribute to education funding. States and local governments typically provide about 44 percent each of all elementary and secondary education funding. The federal government contributes about 12 percent of all direct expenditures.
The share of education funding that federal, state, and local governments provide has changed significantly over time. Historically, elementary and secondary education was funded largely by local governments and states played only a supporting role. Today, states play a large and increasing role in education funding, a trend that emerged in the 1970's when state spending first overtook education spending by local governments. Federal funding has always been minor with respect to total direct elementary and secondary education spending, though the federal government’s role in education funding has slowly increased, along with the role of the federal government in education policy.