Education and Training Expenditures in the U.S.

Executive Summary

Learners, educators, employers, and policymakers understand that expenditures on education and training are necessary to develop the skills and talent required by today and tomorrow’s workforce. However, until today we did not have a robust understanding of exactly how much is being spent on acquiring these necessary skills and credentials.

This report provides an estimate of U.S. spending on training and education in 2017. The total expenditures by educational institutions, employers, federal grant programs, states, and the military were $1.921 trillion. From this nearly two trillion dollars in expenditures:

  • Educational institutions spent $1,325 billion on educational activities, almost 70 percent of total spending in the U.S.
  • Employers spent $516 billion (27 percent of total) on training and training wages.
  • States and federal grants to other schools, programs, and the military account for the remaining $79 billion (four percent of total).

All of this spending is ostensibly oriented toward ensuring that individuals being served by education and training opportunities earn the credentials and competencies which have value to them in some way. Given that these expenditures are significant for all involved—not to mention the millions of learners incurring debt—we should all be working towards a system that allows us to make the best use of these resources. Our 2021 report, Counting U.S. Postsecondary and Secondary Credentials, shows us there are one million credentials in the U.S. alone. Credential transparency can help align
our efforts across education and training to provide more efficient and effective pathways to and through these education and training opportunities.

Read and Download the Full Report.