At least half of the states are providing less general aid per student — the main state funding source for schools ― this year than in 2008, before the Great Recession took hold, our survey of school funding data shows.
K-12 schools in every state rely heavily on state aid. On average, 46 percent of school revenues in the United States come from state funds. Local governments provide another 45 percent; the rest comes from the federal government.
States typically distribute most of their education funding to school districts. Each state uses its own formula to do so. Many states target at least some funds to districts with greater student need (for instance, more students from low-income families) and less ability to raise funds from property taxes and other local revenues, although this targeting typically doesn’t fully equalize educational spending across wealthy and poor school districts.
In addition to this “general” or “formula” funding, states also typically provide revenue for other, more specific purposes, such as bus transportation, contributions to school employee pension plans, and teacher training. States vary in what they include in their general funding formula and what they fund outside the formula.
States made widespread and deep cuts to education formula funding when the recession hit, and at least 25 states still haven’t fully restored the cuts eight years later — despite most states’ boosts to the formula funding in the last year.
This interactive map shows the percent change in per-student state general funding since 2008, for each state with the necessary data.