School Finance

Providing education for children is among the most important investments we make as a society. State and local expenditure on education in the U.S. is second only to spending on public welfare (e.g., cash assistance programs, health, etc.), making up 21% of all state and local direct general expenditures in the 2017 fiscal year. In total, spending on education across the country measured just under $735 billion in 2017-18 or $15,381 per pupil, of which 7.8% was supported by federal dollars and the remainder funded through roughly equal shares of state and local revenues (46.8% and 45.3%, respectively).

Our Work

Given the immense public effort directed to education, gaining a firm understanding of how educational funding is distributed to districts/schools and how dollars are spent to provide schooling is of vital importance. At AIR, we use the best research methods to undertake studies in school finance that shed light on how educational funding and resources can be distributed more equitably across districts/schools and used more efficiently to improve the outcomes of students. In line with our mission to create rigorous evidence that contributes to a better, more equitable world, AIR’s research and policy studies in school finance focus on:

  • Educational Resource Allocation
  • District and State Funding Systems
  • Educator Supply and Demand
  • Cost-Effectiveness and Benefit-Cost Analysis

Our school finance work encompasses investigations conducted on behalf of local school districts, state and federal agencies, and philanthropic organizations with an interest in improving policy and practice at all schooling levels from early childhood to postsecondary education.

Image of Jesse Levin
Principal Researcher
Image of Drew Atchison
Senior Researcher