“If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.”

– Derek Bok, American Educator and Lawyer

The cost of educating one student in the U.S. during one school year has now topped the $10,000 mark, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), which recently released its annual report, entitled, Revenues and Expenditures for Public Elementary and Secondary Education.

During the 2007-08 school year, public school districts in the U.S. spent $10,297 per student, says the report. Over 90 percent of revenues for public elementary and secondary schools came from state and local governments.

Among the states, Utah had the lowest per-pupil expenditures ($5,978), while New Jersey had the highest ($17,620). Per pupil expenditures include the cost of instruction, student support services, administration, and school operations.

The states with the highest-per pupil expenditures in 2007-08 were New Jersey, New York, District of Columbia, Alaska, and Connecticut. Per-pupil expenditures were lowest in Utah, Idaho, Oklahoma, Arizona and North Carolina.

According to William Hussar, Financial Economist with the NCES, a number of factors could influence a state’s position in the rankings, including:

  • the financial situation of the state and its school districts;
  • the general economic situation of the state; and
  • the differences in the costs of providing education in that state compared to other states.

Nationally, instruction-related costs accounted for the largest portion (61 percent) of expenditures for the 2007-08 school year, followed by support services (35 percent). Instruction and instruction-related expenditures include salaries for teachers and teacher aides; employee benefits; instructional services; classroom supplies; and extracurricular activities.

Per-pupil expenditures directly related to instruction were highest in New York, where $11,572 of the $16,794 was spent per student on instruction-related expenses.

Intuitively, it would seem that more affluent school districts could attract more qualified teachers, and therefore deliver better instruction, but William Hussar says, “As of yet, there has not been a clear consensus to the size, and perhaps even the existence of a correlation of the financial strength of a school district and the quality of education.”

MuniNet Guide Updates School Data

MuniNet Guide provides contact information and demographic data for public elementary and secondary schools around the country. Data is derived from the National Center for Education Statistics, a division of the U.S. Department of Education.

We recently updated this information to reflect the 2007-08 school year, the most recent data provided by the NCES.

Every city page on MuniNetGuide.com includes a listing of primary, secondary, and charter schools in the area. Click on a specific school to access the following information:

  • address and phone number
  • teacher-student ratio
  • number of students per grade
  • demographic breakdown of students

Want to see an example? Visit MuniNet’s page for information on Glover Elementary School in Akron, Ohio.