How PA K-12 Education is Funded

Education Budget


PA Department of Education



A summary of the funding levels for state education appropriations in Governor Shapiro's proposed 2023-24 fiscal year budget.

Hold-Harmless Analysis


PA House of Representatives


"Hold-harmless” means that a school district is guaranteed at least the amount it received in the prior year. In 2015/16, this practice was discontinued. Since then, new education funding is distributed through the fair funding formula.

Performance-Based Education Budget


Independent Fiscal Office


The Independent Fiscal Office (IFO) performs budget reviews on various Pennsylvania agencies. The Department of Education was last subjected to this review and the report was issued January 2022. Report content includes activity, goals, and outcomes; agency expenditures; employment/staffing information; applicable metric and statistics; and additional proposed metrics, recommendations, and observations.

Tax-Credit Education Savings Account Programs (ESA)
(not currently offered in PA)

These ESAs allow taxpayers to receive full or partial tax credits when they donate to nonprofit organizations that fund and manage parent-directed K-12 ESAs.  Parents can then use those accounts for educational costs, such as a standard ESA as detailed above.

Individual Tuition Tax Credits
(not currently offered in PA)

Individual tuition tax credits give parents a state income tax credit for approved educational expenses for their child, like tuition to a school of their choice. Generally, about $3,000 to $6,000 is given to eligible low-income families, which is refundable and has little to no tax liability.



Scholarship Tax Credit Programs
(currently offered in PA)

Corporations and individuals make private donations to nonprofit organizations that provide private school scholarships to eligible children, and in return, receive a state income tax credit. Families are then able to evaluate, and have their children attend, participating private schools of their choice.





Education Choice Funding Mechanisms

Voucher Programs
(not currently offered in PA)

Voucher programs set aside funding for students with low-income, special needs, or in a failing public school to  choose a private school (religious and non-religious) for their children. The funding for their children's education, rather than being spent by the school district, is allocated to the family as a voucher to pay partial or full tuition for their child's private school.



Education Savings Account Programs (ESA)
(not currently offered in PA)

While a variety of methods to administer these accounts are utilized in applicable states, the basic concept is that the per-student state share of education funding is placed into a state-administered account for each participating student.  Parents use these funds for school tuition and fees, textbooks, tutoring, special therapies, and other approved expenses.  The possibilities are vast, and dependent upon the accompanying program parameters.  Those families can also choose from where or whom to receive education, and it can be from multiple providers (as in the case of hybrid, modular or blended education), or a single provider. These programs are the most individually customizable out of all of the existing types of school choice programs.


To date, nine states already provide these programs.


       "What we do today will champion education choice rights for our children's futures."

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