State Budgets & Education Funding

March 17th, 2011

By: Bill Gates

My passionate belief in education has led me to learn more about the intricacies of school budgets and the state budgets that provide most of the money for public education.

The U.S. public education system is gigantic: 50 million students in kindergarten through high school. On average, the U.S. spends about $10,000 per student per year, or about $500 billion total. So lately I’ve become very interested in understanding where the $500 billion comes from, where it goes and whether it might be spent more effectively.

In turn, this has led me to try to understand state budgets, which is where the majority of school money comes from. States spend a lot of society’s public resources, but they’re facing tremendous budgetary pressures from the economic recession. Many have cut education funding. And although the economy and tax revenues may improve over the next few years, states face continuing fiscal pressures from rising pension and healthcare costs, which could squeeze out money for both K-12 and higher education. At best, funding for education is likely to be flat.

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