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94% of teachers spend their own money on school supplies

By Grace Sparks

Published May 22, 2018

Almost all public school teachers — 94% — have spent some of their own money on school supplies without reimbursement, according to a survey done by the National Center for Education Statistics.

Between 2014 and 2016 the median amount spent spent was $297. The plurality (44%) of teachers spent $250 or less. But, the average amount spent was…

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$479

Public school teachers spent an average of $479 of their own money during two years.

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The amount of money spent depended on the school classification, community type, instructional level and the socioeconomic status of the students.

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Elementary school teachers were more likely than secondary school teachers to spend their own money, and they spent more of it.

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95%

Ninety-five percent of elementary school teachers spent their own money on school supplies, (paying an average of $526), compared to 93% of secondary school teachers ($430 spent on average).

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Teachers in cities spent more, on average, than teachers in suburban, town or rural public schools, but it wasn’t a significant difference.

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The biggest factor in the amount of money spent was the portion of students who were approved for free or reduced-price lunches, an indicator of their socioeconomic status.

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$554

In schools where 75% or more of the students participated in free or reduced-price lunches, teachers were spending, on average, $554 on school supplies.

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Here’s how teacher spending compares with percentage of students with free or reduced-price lunches:

National Center for Education Statistics