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50-State Comparison: K-12 Funding

States use different allocation methods to distribute K-12 funding to school districts. These policy choices impact how much funding districts receive to provide services for students. This 50-State Comparison summarizes some of these key choices, including: the primary funding model, base funding, student counts, funding for special education services, English learners, students from low-income backgrounds, gifted and talented students, and small and rural school districts.

This resource identifies which states provide these funding supports and how states use different funding mechanisms to allocate resources.

Click on one of the metrics below to see how all states approach various aspects of K-12 funding.

View a specific state’s approach by going to the state profiles page.

50-State Comparisons

Click the items below to see data for all states.


Click here to see all data points for all states.

The information has been collected from state statute, policy regulations, enacted state budgets and state education agency documents. To classify funding models and mechanisms that appear under different terms across states, Education Commission of the States created definitions for the terms used. Those definitions are found within the relevant pages for each data point. For information on funding amounts, see the U.S. Census Bureau’s Annual Survey of School System Finances.

Key Takeaways

Primary Funding Model

States provide money to school districts to cover basic costs of education, such as teacher salaries and instructional materials. However, not all states take the same approach. Some states allocate money based on student or district characteristics, while others allocate funds for resources such as school positions, classroom resources or a combination of both.

These approaches are:

  • Student-based: 35 states and the District of Columbia.
  • Resource-based: 9 states.
  • Hybrid: 4 states.
  • Other: 2 states.
Base Amount

At least 32 states and the District of Columbia provide a minimum guaranteed dollar amount, called a base amount, that is allocated through the primary funding model to support each student in every district.

Student Count

States also take different approaches to how they count students for funding purposes. There are 44 states and the District of Columbia that use enrollment and 6 states that use attendance to count students to determine funding allocations. These counts may be done on a single day, multiple days or an average across all or a portion of the school year.

Student Population or District Funding

States also allocate funding for specific student populations to provide additional support.

  • Special Education: 50 states and the District of Columbia
  • English Learners: 48 states and the District of Columbia
  • Students from Low-Income Backgrounds: 44 states and the District of Columbia
  • Gifted and Talented: 37 states
  • Small Size or Isolated Funding: 36 states


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March 11, 2024

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