Education is primarily a State and local responsibility in the United States. It is States and communities, as well as public and private organizations of all kinds, that establish schools and colleges, develop curricula, and determine requirements for enrollment and graduation. The structure of education finance in America reflects this predominant State and local role. Of an estimated $1 trillion being spent nationwide on education at all levels for school year 2007-2008, a substantial majority will come from State, local, and private sources. This is especially true at the elementary and secondary level, where just over 91 percent of the funds will come from non-Federal sources.
That means the Federal contribution to elementary and secondary education is a little under 9 percent, which includes funds not only from the Department of Education (ED) but also from other Federal agencies, such as the Department of Health and Human Services' Head Start program and the Department of Agriculture's School Lunch program. When support for postsecondary education is added in, ED's contribution, including loans and other aid made available as a result of ED's student financial aid programs, is about 12 percent of the total spending for all levels of education. ED's $67.2 billion appropriation, by the way, is about 2.4 percent of the Federal Government's roughly $2.8 trillion budget in fiscal year 2007.