Research Weekly - How Much Does Utah Spend on Education?
On the surface, it may appear that Utah does not place great enough emphasis on education. Utah is often cited as spending the least amount per-pupil for K-12 public education in the nation at $6,555. New York, comparatively, spends the most per-pupil at $19,818. Looking at this single data point may paint an inaccurate picture of Utah’s investment in education. Considering all factors may show that Utah’s efforts in education are not as poor as it may seem. The following three points describe in detail why Utah is actually one of the highest education spenders in the nation:
1. Utah spends the highest portion of its total budget on education in the nation- Utah allocates 40.9% of total budget on education, compared to New York, which, interestingly, allocates the least percent of its total budget to education, at 22.4%.
2. Spending more per-pupil does not necessarily equate to better performance- While New York has the highest per-pupil spending and Utah has the lowest, Utah has the 10th highest percent (91.0%) of its population with at least a high school diploma, compared to New York, which has the 35th highest percent (85.4%).
3. Utah’s annual per-pupil spending is increasing more than any state, at nearly six times the national average- Between 2012 and 2013, per-pupil spending increased nationally by less than 1%, whereas Utah’s increased by 5.6%—the largest increase of any state. Utah also spends less (on average) on administration and more on teachers, so the funding more directly reaches the classrooms.
The perplexing question may be: How can Utah have the greatest portion of its budget allocated to education but still have the smallest per-pupil spending? This is because Utah has the highest fertility rate in the nation, which leads to a much larger portion of the population in the K-12 age range. In Utah, 31% of the population is under the age of 18, compared to the nation at only 23%.
In Utah we are known for our well-educated population. It is important that we continue to invest in educating the workforce of tomorrow that we may maintain our success in attracting quality jobs and capital investment to the state.