Special Report

States Spending the Most (and Least) on Education

States Spending the Most on Education

10. Maryland
> Spending per pupil: $13,608
> Total education spending: $13.7 billion (13th highest)
> Pct. with high school diploma: 89.1% (23rd highest)
> Median household income: $71,122 (the highest)

Maryland spent $13,608 per pupil in fiscal year 2012, 10th highest nationwide. School administration costs accounted for nearly $1,000 per pupil, more than in all but two other states. The state benefits from having a wealthy tax base. Maryland’s median household income of $71,122 in 2012 was the highest of any state and nearly $20,000 more than the national median income of $51,371 that year. While large school budgets do not guarantee that students will have high scores on national tests, Maryland children excelled in most subjects. For example, Maryland primary school students led the nation in reading proficiency in 2013.

9. Delaware
> Spending per pupil: $13,864
> Total education spending: $1.8 billion (6th lowest)
> Pct. with high school diploma: 88.5% (25th lowest)
> Median household income: $58,415 (10th highest)

Unlike most other states with high education spending, the majority of Delaware’s elementary and secondary school spending came from state sources. By contrast, less than half of primary and secondary school spending across the nation came from state sources. With the state helping to foot much of the education bill, schools spent an average of $8,832 directly on teaching, more than in all but six other states. Delaware households were also more likely than most to have high incomes, which can increase education spending through greater tax collections. A typical household earned $58,415 in 2012, more than all but a handful of states.

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8. Rhode Island
> Spending per pupil: $14,005
> Total education spending: $2.2 billion (8th lowest)
> Pct. with high school diploma: 86.1% (17th lowest)
> Median household income: $54,554 (18th highest)

Services such as administration, maintenance, and counseling, accounted for a substantial share of overall education spending in Rhode Island. In particular, the state spent $1,525 per pupil on student support, such as social work and placement services, in fiscal year 2012, much more than double the national average of just over $600. Like several other top-spending education systems, a relatively small proportion of Rhode Island school funding came from federal and state sources in fiscal 2012. Instead, more than 55% of primary and secondary education spending came from local sources, among the highest percentages nationwide.

7. Massachusetts
> Spending per pupil: $14,142
> Total education spending: $15.6 billion (11th highest)
> Pct. with high school diploma: 89.7% (21st highest)
> Median household income: $65,339 (6th highest)

With the highest rate of higher educational attainment in the country, it might not be surprising that Massachusetts spends among the most per student on elementary and secondary education. More than 39% of state residents had at least a bachelor’s degree in 2012, and the state spent more than $14,000 per pupil. Massachusetts employs more teachers than most other states. More than 11% of the state’s employees worked in education as of 2012, a higher percentage than all but a few states. In all, Massachusetts spent $5,916 per student on teacher salaries and another $853 per student on support staff, both among the highest in the country.

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6. Wyoming
> Spending per pupil: $15,897
> Total education spending: $1.7 billion (5th lowest)
> Pct. with high school diploma: 91.7% (tied-5th highest)
> Median household income: $54,901 (17th highest)

Wyoming spent nearly $9,500 per student in employee salaries and wages, more than all but two other states, and $3,912 per student on employee benefits, the fifth-most nationwide. Additionally, the state was one of the top spenders on student instruction on a per-student basis and the third-highest spender on support services, at more than $6,000 per pupil. Wyoming managed to spend the sixth most on education per pupil despite having the nation’s lowest state and local income tax burden as of 2011. Of course, it helps that the state derives a large portion of its tax revenue from oil and gas severance taxes.