The Empire State forks out more money per student than any other in the U.S., but that’s not necessarily paying for the best.

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New Yorkers aren’t getting the most bang for their buck on public schooling.

The state spends $22,366 per student – more than any other state – to get a public education K-12, says a survey from Other states do better with less.

The state that ranks best for education is New Hampshire, says U.S. News and World Report. They ranked public schools based on the amount of students enrolled, teacher-to-student ratio and pass or fail rates of standardized testing compared to a national level. New York didn’t even make the top 10 – it came in at 23.

Some may think to themselves, “well I’ll just send my child to private school, then.” If you’re a New Yorker, that can run you $16,583 for the average tuition costs. The annual cost of tuition to some private schools in New York can run upward of $50,000, according to the The Wall Street Journal.

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At that rate it’s cheaper to send your kids away to a private college than some of the private K-12 schools in New York. The national average cost of that is about $34,699, according to U.S. News.

Public school costs have been increasing

The U.S. spends more than $600 billion dollars on education. Governmental spending has quadrupled over 27 years from $17.1 billion in 1989 to $68.3 billion in 2016, according to the U.S. Department of Education. But, where does all the money go?

On average it costs $12,612 in governmental funding for each student in public school during 2018, according to the most recent data, says Governing magazine.

Those funds go towards teachers and teaching aides’ salaries, employee benefits, school supplies – which can range from books to even heating oil in some colder states – and “purchased services,” or: “services that are provided by personnel who are not on the school district payroll,” according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

The amount spent on teaching staff salaries and benefits has jumped around over the years. In 2013-2014, 80 percent of funding was allocated towards them. Whereas, in 2010-2011, 60 percent went towards paying teachers and teaching aides.

American teachers are well-paid when compared to other countries, according to Vox. But when comparing teachers’ salaries to the average U.S. workers with a bachelors degree, their salaries don’t come close.

Does higher teacher pay equal higher education costs?

There’s a relationship, but even that isn’t entirely consistent.

While it costs on average $21,206 per student in New York, teachers are paid the second highest salaries in the U.S. — $76,593 on average. Compare to Alaska, which spends $20,172 per student and their teachers earn $77,843, the top teacher salary in the U.S.

Alaska also ranks 43 out of 50 on U.S. News and World Report’s K-12 list of “best states for education.” So again, another state may be spending more than necessary – unless they need a lot of heating oil.

“While no one enters the teaching industry for the money, our study findings reveal some rather large income discrepancies depending on where in the country teachers live,” says Kristen Bonner, lead researcher on the study. “For those in the education industry who might be considering a relocation, a state’s job opportunity and competition ratings are also important factors to keep in mind.”

So teachers don’t go into their profession to make a lot of money. You got to give credit to New Hampshire though, they ranked number one in best teaching and they spend only $14,697 on education per student.

Their teachers may be doing some of the best work in the country, but they didn’t even make the top 10 highest paying list – then again, they didn’t make the worst either.

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About the Author

Joe Pye

Joe Pye

Joe Pye started writing about debt and personal finance five years ago while attending Florida Atlantic University, where he served as Editor-in-Chief of the student-run newspaper, the University Press. Before graduating with a bachelor's degree in multimedia journalism, Pye placed as a finalist for the Mark of Excellence award by the Society of Professional Journalists Region 3 for feature writing and in-depth reporting. In 2021, Pye earned First Place in the Green Eyeshade awards for "Best Blog" for his side-project Since taking a full-time position as associate editor at in 2018, Pye has become a certified debt management professional who's applied what he's learned to his personal life by paying down more than $22,000 worth of combined credit card, student loan, auto and tax debt in less than two years.

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