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Federal, State, and Local K-12 School Finance Overview America spends over $500 billion a year on public elementary and secondary education in the United States. On average, school districts spend $10,314 for each individual student, although per pupil expenditures vary greatly among states, school districts and individual schools. Spending also differs among school districts in the same state and amongschools within the same district. All three levels of government – federal, state, and local – contribute to education funding. States typically provide a little less than half of all elementary and secondary education funding. Local governments generally contribute about 44 percent of the total, and the federal government contributes about 13 percent of all direct expenditures. The share of education funding that federal, state, and local governments provide has changed significantly over time. Historically, elementary and secondary education was funded largely by local governments and states played only a supporting role. Today, states play a large and increasing role in education funding, a trend that emerged in the 1970’s when state spending first overtook education spending by local governments. Federal funding has always been minor with respect to total direct elementary and secondary education spending, though the federal government’s role in education funding has slowly increased, along with the role of the federal government in education policy.Federal Funding The federal government spends more than $40 billion annually
on primary and secondary education programs. Much of the funding isdiscretionary, meaning it is set annually by Congress through the appropriations process. Funds flow mainly through the Department ofEducation although other federal agencies administer some funding for education related activities. Through the U.S. Department of Education, the federal government provides more than $40 billion a year on primary and secondary education programs. The two biggest programs are No Child Left Behind Title I Grants to local school districts ($13.7 billion in fiscalyear 2013) and IDEA Special Education State Grants ($11.0 billion in fiscal year 2013). Other federal agencies that administer funding for primary and secondary education include the Department of Agriculture, which coordinates the funding for the child nutrition programs ($20.4 in fiscal year 2013), the Department of Health and Human Services, which supports the Head Start program ($8.0 million in fiscal year 2013) and the Department of Labor, which supports Youth Employment and Training Activitiesand Youthbuild ($0.9 billion in fiscal year 2013). Federal education funding is distributed to states and school districts though a variety of formula and competitive grant programs. While the federal government contributes about 13 percent of direct funding for elementary and secondary schools nationally, the amount varies considerably from state to state. In some states the federal share of total