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How schools are funded
Schools are funded through a combination of Australian Government (Commonwealth) funding, state and territory government funding, and funding from fees, charges and other parental or private contributions.
Governments share responsibility for school funding
Under Australia’s constitutional arrangements, state and territory governments are responsible for providing school education. This is why state and territory governments own and manage government schools and are responsible for registering non-government schools in their jurisdictions.
The Commonwealth does not own or operate schools. It does, however, provide significant funding for schools and is involved in setting national education policies.
Commonwealth recurrent funding for schools
The shares of recurrent funding provided for schools by each level of government reflect historical arrangements. State and territory governments provide most of the public recurrent funding for government schools. The Commonwealth provides most of the public recurrent funding for non-government schools.
In 2023, the Commonwealth is providing at least 20% of each government school’s Schooling Resource Standard (SRS) and 80% of each non-government school’s SRS.
The Commonwealth has been providing recurrent funding for non-government schools since 1970, and for government schools since 1974. The Commonwealth has reviewed and refined the way it provides recurrent funding for schools a number of times since then. Improved data capability now allows the Commonwealth to allocate recurrent funding in a more targeted way to direct it to where it is needed most.
The Commonwealth’s recurrent funding model is set out in the Australian Education Act 2013 (the Act). You can find out more about the Commonwealth’s recurrent funding arrangements at: Commonwealth recurrent funding for schools.
Other Commonwealth funding for schools
The Commonwealth first provided capital funding for government and non-government schools in 1964. Currently, capital funding for schools is provided under the Australian Education Act 2013 (the Act) through:
- The Capital Grants Program, which provides funding for capital projects in non-government schools
- The Schools Upgrade Fund, to help schools to provide their students with improved learning facilities in a COVID-19 safe environment.
- Recurrent funding arrangements for government schools, special schools, special assistance schools, majority Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander schools and sole provider schools.
State and territory government funding for schools
State and territory governments provide funding for government and non government schools in their jurisdictions.
Each of the state and territory governments has agreed recurrent funding contribution levels for their government and non government schools from 2018 to 2023. These are set out in bilateral agreements with the Australian Government under the National School Reform Agreement.
You can find information about each state or territory government’s funding arrangements published on their websites.
Recurrent funding is linked to the national school reform agenda
The National School Reform Agreement is a joint agreement between the Commonwealth, States and Territories to lift student outcomes across Australian schools. You can read about the NSRA at: National School Reform Agreement.
Most schools receive some private income from fees and other charges paid by parents and guardians of students at the school.
For government schools in most states and territories, the payment of fees by parents and guardians is voluntary and the fee levels are low.
The fee levels at non-government schools vary, and are set by schools in consultation with their parent community.
The Commonwealth does not have a direct role in the administration or operation of schools, and therefore is not involved in how schools structure and administer their fees.
Schools may also receive private income from funding raised by Parent and Citizens Associations, interests, trusts, endowments, philanthropy and other donations.
How much funding is provided for schools?
To find out how much funding is provided for schools each year, see reports on school funding.