The average American teacher spends $ 511 out of pocket on classroom supplies without compensation: study

Dipping into a teacher’s own pocket for classroom supplies is nothing new. Many American teachers have become so accustomed to spending money to buy things for their jobs that they have added these costs to their regular household budgets.

Notably, this phenomenon has also been studied by the US Department of Education, and the majority of Americans (5 percent) believe that teachers should not spend their own money on classroom supplies.

A recent study found that some teachers expect to complete a school year without spending money, which is never repaid. recently conducted an online survey of 299 American teachers on whether they spend their own money to provide items for their classrooms and whether they are reimbursed.

The study reveals the following main findings:

  • The average amount teachers spend without reimbursement is $ 511. One in four teachers spends more than $ 750 on supplies.
  • A quarter of teachers say their schools do not fund classrooms at all.
  • Only 25 percent of students are sent to school which is all or most of the requested on the back-to-school supply lists given to their parents.

The average cost out of pocket reaches 511

The survey found that eight to nine per cent of teachers spend money on providing classrooms that the school has not reimbursed. Only 11 percent of people have no costs associated with classrooms.

The total average out-of-pocket expense, i.e. money not reimbursed by the school, was $ 511, and one in four teachers spent more than $ 750 that they did not return to the classroom supply. A quarter of teachers say their schools do not fund classrooms at all.

How much do teachers spend out of classroom pockets each year?

The study found that teachers who spent their own money on their classrooms spent an average of $ 19 per student, while their school budgets were about $ 11 per student. This means that teachers are spending almost twice as much per student as schools on supplies and other items that go beyond the school budget.

Private school teachers are in a slightly better position, yet one percent of them still pay for supplies without reimbursement. Of the 0% of traditional school teachers who spend out-of-pocket, the average cost of school reimbursed is ४ 464 vs.

Nearly half of teachers do not benefit from parent-provided lists

In recent years, teachers have turned to parents to share the cost of classroom items. But items on the back-to-school supply list for parents usually do not include everything a teacher needs to purchase. For about 55 percent of teachers, parents’ school return shopping list includes items specifically for the classroom, but the study found that teachers receive no less than half the promotion.

And even in classrooms where supplies provided by parents include items specifically for teachers ’classrooms, three out of four students arrive at school without everything on the list. According to the report, one possible reason why so few students come to school with the requested materials is that, according to the latest census figures, about 17 percent of children in the United States live below the poverty line.

What percentage of students supply all supplies on school supply lists?

Percentage of students bringing all required materials




25% -49%


50% -74%


75% +


Where does the money go?

The average teacher spends about $ 120 per year on classroom decoration, but on average the most expensive category is non-consumable classroom supplies. This is a wide range that includes books, courses, equipment and software but does not include consumables such as pencils or notebooks. The average teacher spends more than 5 135 per year on non-consumable classroom supplies.

Average teacher costs per class

Non-consumables (books, courses, equipment, software)


Classroom decoration


Supplies of consumables (pencils, notebooks, facial tissues)


Food and snacks


Rewards and prizes

$ 84

Hygiene supplies and hand sanitizers


While classroom decorations may seem like optional or luxury, the fact that teachers are spending the most on books, curricula, and other necessary equipment means that students may be at risk of not providing adequate services if their teachers cannot afford them. What they want.

Studies have shown that teachers with access to high-quality educational materials are better equipped to ensure the best possible academic outcomes for students.

And for some students, equipment, technology and other materials are necessary not only to achieve the best possible results but also to achieve any success in school. This is especially the case in special education classes and for students with physical disabilities, and unfortunately, many schools are not able to provide what students need.

And while some teachers in the survey indicated that they feel they spend more of their own money on their classrooms, many others feel they need to spend more to educate their students adequately.

Of the teachers surveyed, about 81 percent of respondents teach in traditional public schools, 10 percent in private schools, 7 percent in public charter or magnet schools, and 2 percent in other types of schools.

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About the author

Author: Stephen Soluni

Stephen Soluni No longer a student, but loves to learn. Not the teacher, but take care of how the students are taught. Not an educator, but everyone wants to be educated. Not a social worker, but a desire to see change. Not a reformer, but always wanting to see a better world. The author believes that only proper education can bring a better future, a better world and technology can help achieve a lot in this field.

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