How much does the government spend on education? What percentage of people are college educated? How are kids doing in reading and math?

Latest update on January 23, 2023

What is the current state of education in the US?

The education system in America is made up of different public and private programs that cover preschool, all the way up to colleges and universities. These programs cater to many students in both urban and rural areas. Get data on how students are faring by grade and subject, college graduation rates, and what federal, state, and local governments spending per student. The information comes from various government agencies including the National Center for Education Statistics and Census Bureau.

How much does the US spend per student?

Public school spending per student

During the 2019-2020 school year, there was $15,810 spent on K-12 public education for every student in the US.

Education spending per K-12 public school students has nearly doubled since the 1970s.

This estimate of spending on education is produced by the National Center for Education Statistics. Instruction accounts for most of the spending, though about a third includes support services including administration, maintenance, and transportation. Spending per student varies across states and school districts. During the 2019-2020 school year, New York spends the most per student ($29,597) and Idaho spends the least ($9,690).

Average teacher salary

During the 2021-2022 school year, the average public school teacher salary in the US was $66,397.

Instruction is the largest category of public school spending, according to data from the National Center for Educational Statistics. Adjusting for inflation, average teacher pay is down since 2010.

How educated are Americans?

People with a bachelor's degree

In 2021, 35% of people 25 and over had at least a bachelor’s degree.

Over the last decade women have become more educated than men.

Educational attainment is defined as the highest level of formal education a person has completed. The concept can be applied to a person, a demographic group, or a geographic area. Data on educational attainment is produced by the Census Bureau in multiple surveys, which may produce different data. Data from the American Community Survey is shown here to allow for geographic comparisons.

Educational attainment by race and ethnicity

In 2021, 61% of the Asian 25+ population had completed at least four years of college.

Educational attainment data from the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey allows for demographic comparisons across the US.

How are kids doing in reading and math?

Proficiency in math and reading

In 2022, proficiency in math for eighth graders was 26.5%.

Proficiency in reading in 8th grade was 30.8%.

Based on a nationwide assessment, reading and math scores declined during the pandemic.

The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) is the only nationally representative data that measures student achievement. NAEP is Congressionally mandated. Tests are given in a sample of schools based on student demographics in a given school district, state, or the US overall. Testing covers a variety of subjects, most frequently math, reading, science, and writing.

What is the role of the government in education?

Spending on the education system

In fiscal year 2020, governments spent a combined total of $1.3 trillion on education.

That comes out to $4,010 per person.

USAFacts categorizes government budget data to allocate spending appropriately and to arrive at the estimate presented here. Most government spending on education occurs at the state and local levels rather than the federal.

Government revenue and expenditures are based on data from the Office of Management and Budget, the Census Bureau, and the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Each is published annually, although due to collection times, state and local government data are not as current as federal data. Thus, when combining federal, state, and local revenues and expenditures, the most recent year for a combined number may be delayed.

Agencies and elected officials

Key actors

Early childhood education

Department of Education

Partially fund preschools

K-12 education

Department of Education

Partially fund K-12 schools

Higher education

Department of Education

Partially fund institutes of higher education

Aid for education

Department of Education

Establish policies and distribute aid (to states and individuals) including Title I funding for low-income K-12 schools, Pell Grants, federal work-study, and student loans

Researches and regulates schools

Department of Education

Enforce Title IX and other anti-discrimination policies; set rules for data collection and analysis


Early childhood education

K-12 education

Higher education

Aid for education

Researches and regulates schools