Education, News

Education Budgets: Who Decides How Much Schools Get?

When it comes to preparing the 2015 education budget – or any year’s education budget, it is never a straightforward matter. A variety of factors affect whether the amount the federal or even state governments spend on the education system. From after-school programs to tuition pricing for universities, a lot rides on how much is in the federal budget and whether the state needs to cut back in order to balance its budget.

© Sadaasri | - School Building Photo

Financial factors in play

When it comes time to deciding on the budget, there are many factors at play. They main ones include:

  • Financial position of the state
  • Financial position of the federal government

It is important to realize that the funding for education has both federal and state sources. Each level of government, including the local ones, have a role they play. They each cover certain jurisdictions.

If there are issues concerning state and federal finances, it has not been uncommon for the budget to be balanced on the back of such things as social services and education.

Balanced budgets are dependent on economic conditions. If the state or country suffers from an economic downturn, those areas affected will be forced to cut from their budgets. Because of national disparity among the economic potential and actuality of the different states, this can lead to education being better funded in some states and localities, but not others.

Another aspect of the equation is the cost of education. In some regions, where the cost of education continues to rise, the budget may remain frozen or only increase slightly, all to prevent the costs from skyrocketing. Some believe that education systems need to be more fiscally responsible with the funding they do receive, particularly at a time when costs are going up and American students aren’t exactly leading the way internationally.


Federal politics and policies also impact school districts. It can reduce a district’s ability to effectively educate their students. In California, for example, the education system services a large number of underserved students. These low-income students have been taken care of as a result of Title 1 – a form of federal funding. A proposed White House amendment would alter this part of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. As a result, the school boards with many of these students would be hit hard. In turn, this would affect the schools’ ability to function properly.

Government control and budgets

When it comes down to it, the major factor affecting America education budget is money. It depends upon the ability of federal, state and even local governing bodies to balance their budgets. Faced with this task, one of the most common areas in which local leaders cut back is education. If the good times roll, education spending flourishes. As soon as a recession or even a hint of one appears, education almost always takes the hit.

Previous post

Doing What You Like: Scholarships and Favorite Hobbies

Next post

School Gardens: Sowing and Reaping the Benefits

The Author

Mary Brown

Mary Brown

Mary Brown has enjoyed writing about education and finance related topics, such as scholarships, student loans, college, vocational degree choices, and adult education since the early 2000's. She also writes about school budgets, accreditation and fundraising.