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About the Survey

SPONSOR

U.S. Census Bureau as authorized by Title 13, United States Code, Section 161 and 182


PURPOSE

Provide statistics about the finances of elementary and secondary public school systems.


CONTENT

The survey covers all public school systems that provide elementary or secondary education. The data include revenue by source (local property tax, monies from other school systems, private tuition and transportation payments, school lunch charges, direct state aid, and federal aid passed through the state government), expenditure by function and object (instruction, support service functions, salaries, and capital outlay), indebtedness, and cash and investments.


Content was expanded at the request of the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) in 1992. New data items include: direct state aid for 11 types of programs (such as general formula assistance, staff improvement, and special education); federal aid for Title I, Children with Disabilities, and Impact Aid programs; salaries and employee benefits by function; maintenance, transportation, and business activities; and spending for instructional equipment.


FREQUENCY

Reported data are for school system fiscal years. Collection begins approximately six months after the fiscal year ends and continues for the next nine months. Data have been collected annually since 1977. From 1957 to 1977, school expenditure data were collected and published as part of the Annual Government Finance Survey.


PRODUCTS

Public Education Finances reports are released as part of the Census of Governments for years ending in "2" and "7". Reports and statistical tables contain national and state aggregated data for major components of school system revenues, expenditures, debt, and assets. They also provide similar detail, per pupil, for school systems with enrollments larger than 10,000. Viewable statistical tables and data files containing full survey or enumeration data detail for each covered school system also are available for download. Data for individual systems are public data and not subject to confidentiality limitations.


HOW THE DATA ARE USED

The U.S. Congress (including the Congressional Research Service staff), and other federal agencies including the NCES, the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the Department of Education (including the special education and impact aid offices), the Department of Defense, and the Department of Interior (including the Bureau of Indian Affairs) routinely use the data for program and policy analyses. State and local governments use the information for intra- and interstate peer analysis. Universities and professional associations use the data for trend and equity analyses. In addition to numerous academic researchers who use the F-33 products, staff receive inquiries from state government officials, legislatures, public policy analysts, local school officials, non-profit organizations, and various Federal agencies.


Some major uses include the following:

  • Development of the government component of the gross domestic product estimates
  • Development of the national income and product accounts and input-output accounts estimates
  • Allocation of certain federal grant funds
  • Legislative research
  • Wage and salary negotiations by state and local government and school district employees and staff
  • Comparative studies of school district finances within and across states

Additional information on our methodology - the population of interest, data collection, data processing, and data quality, are available at How the Data are Collected


Source: U.S. Census Bureau | Public Elementary–Secondary Education Finance Data | 1 (800) 622-6193| govs.elsec@census.gov |  Last Revised: May 22, 2014