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State Finance

Desired features of a State Funding System

list of key decisions and features of a state funding formula

We created this decision tree to help policy makers review and design state education funding formulas. It describes the desired features of a state education funding formula and walks policymakers through key decisions and considerations around balancing efficiency, equity and trade-offs in particular contexts.

Please email any questions to us at

States provide the biggest share of funding for public education in the United States. This grants state education finance policy an outsized impact on districts, schools and students. We analyze pressing state issues, from skyrocketing pension debt (and how states might combat it) to shifting models for allocating resources to districts (and the tradeoffs implicit in those shifts).

One of a state’s primary responsibilities is to divvy up the public funds for K-12 schooling. A set of finance policies determines how the state and local funds are apportioned—and what is expected in return—so that districts and other providers can then apply them to schools and classrooms. While each state formula varies, there are desired features and key decisions for consideration.

Spending vs. Outcomes by School

Interactive data displays allow users to explore resource equity, how dollars are allocated to schools, and which schools are most able to leverage their money to maximize student outcomes. Click any state to explore and filter by specific districts, school characteristics, and student demographics. Darkest blue states use FY23 fiscal data; medium blue states use FY22; lighter blue states use FY21. 

Spending data per student for each school is shown on the horizontal axis. The vertical axis displays outcomes; the source is noted in the axis label. Note at what value the axis starts (this is often>zero).

Our team is making regular updates. If you have questions or would like to be notified when your state is updated, please email us at

We suggest using Chrome for best access to scatterplots in Tableau.

Financial Decision-Making Working Group (FIDWIG) Meetings

A partnership between the National Center and Edunomics Lab, FiDWiG is a collaboration between state education agencies (SEAs) and Regional Centers (RCs) on how to leverage financial transparency for data-driven decision-making. FiDWiG created a set of voluntary, minimal reporting criteria, the Interstate Financial Reporting, to ensure per-pupil expenditure measures have common meaning across states.

Please contact us at for accessible versions of the meeting resources.

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