Georgia Outspending North Carolina in Education

October 25th, 2012 by Leave a Comment

There is no question that many school systems are struggling financially and teachers have been hit by several years of furloughs, but it is also important to put our spending into context.

You may have heard references to the $6 billion in “austerity cuts” to education that have accumulated since 2003. This is compared to the outdated QBE funding formula that was first put in place in 1985 and has not significantly changed in the last 27 years. North Carolina is a better real-world comparison with a similar population and similar demographics. This tells a far different story. On a per student basis, we have outspent North Carolina by $18 billion since 2003. 

Despite spending $18 billion more, our graduation rate is 67.8% while North Carolina’s is 75.1%. (Source: National Center for Education Statistics,

Here’s how we calculate the spending difference. For 2009, Georgia spent a total of $11,446 per student compared to $9,679 in North Carolina, a difference of $1,767. (Source: National Center for Education Statistics,

In 2009, Georgia had 1,630,541 students. (Source: Georgia Department of Education) If Georgia had spent $9,679 instead of $11,446 it would have saved nearly $3 billion ($2,881,165,947 to be exact) in that year alone. 

  2002-03 2003-04 2004-05 2005-06 2006-07 2007-08 2008-09
Georgia Total $ Per Student $9,041 $9,041 $9,334 $9,909 $10,597 $11,498 $11,446
North Carolina Total $ Per Student $7,529 $7,580 $7,854 $8,531 $8,950 $9,045 $9,679
 Difference per student $1,512 $1,461 $1,480 $1,378 $1,647 $2,453 $1,767
Number of GA Students 1,471,333 1,498,580 1,528,133 1,566,284 1,600,653 1,627,660 1,630,541
 Difference in dollars $2,224,655,496 $2,189,425,380 $2,261,636,840 $2,158,339,352 $2,636,275,491 $3,992,649,980 $2,881,165,947
Cumulative Total Dollars $2,224,655,496 $4,414,080,876 $6,675,717,716 $8,834,057,068 $11,470,332,559 $15,462,982,539 $18,344,148,486


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The Georgia Public Policy Foundation is our state’s leading organization promoting government transparency. The Secretary of State’s office shares the Foundation’s commitment to transparency and responsible stewardship of taxpayer dollars, which is why our agency was the first in Georgia to publish its budget and spending data on a public transparency website.

Karen Handel, Georgia Secretary of State more quotes