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In the United States, education is provided in public and private schools and by individuals through homeschooling. State governments set overall educational standards, often mandate standardized tests for K–12 public school systems and supervise, usually through a board of regents, state colleges, and universities. The bulk of the $1.3 trillion in funding comes from state and local governments, with federal funding accounting for about $260 billion in 2021 compared to around $200 billion in past years.
|National education budget (2016–17)|
|Budget||$1.3 trillion (7.2% of GDP) (public and private, all levels)|
|Per student||more than $11,000 (2005)|
|System type||Federal, state, local, private|
|Literacy (2017 est.)|
|Post secondary||19 million3|
|Secondary diploma||91% (among 25-68 year-olds, 2018)|
|Post-secondary diploma||46.4% (among 25-64 year-olds, 2017)|
2Includes middle school and high school
3Includes graduate school
|This article is part of a series on|
|Education in the|
|Levels of education|
United States portal
Private schools are free to determine their own curriculum and staffing policies, with voluntary accreditation available through independent regional accreditation authorities, although some state regulation can apply.
In 2013, about 87% of school-age children (those below higher education) attended state-funded public schools, about 10% attended tuition and foundation-funded private schools, and roughly 3% were home-schooled.
By state law, education is compulsory over an age range starting between five and eight and ending somewhere between ages sixteen and eighteen, depending on the state. This requirement can be satisfied in public or state-certified private schools, or an approved home school program. Compulsory education is divided into three levels: elementary school, middle or junior high school, and high school.
Numerous publicly and privately administered colleges and universities offer a wide variety in post-secondary education. Post-secondary education is divided into college, as the first tertiary degree, and graduate school. Higher education includes public research universities, private liberal arts colleges, historically black colleges and universities, community colleges, for-profit colleges, and many other kinds and combinations of institutions. College enrollment rates in the United States have increased over the long term. At the same time, student loan debt has also risen to $1.5 trillion.
The large majority of the world's top universities, as listed by various ranking organizations, are in the United States, including 19 of the top 25, and the most prestigious – the Harvard University, and the country placed first in the annual U.S. News & World Report Best Countries for Education rankings. The U.S. has by far the most Nobel Prize winners in history, with 403 (having won 406 awards).
In 2010, the United States had a higher combined per-pupil spending for primary, secondary, and post-secondary education than any other OECD country (which overlaps with almost all of the countries designated as being developed by the International Monetary Fund and the United Nations) and the U.S. education sector consumed a greater percentage of the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) than the average OECD country. In 2014, the country spent 6.2% of its GDP on all levels of education—1.0 percentage points above the OECD average of 5.2%. In 2018, primary and secondary per-pupil spending in the United States was 34 percent higher than the OECD average (ranking 5th of 36 countries reporting data), post-secondary per-pupil spending was double the OECD average (ranking 2nd), and the U.S. education sector consumed 6 percent of the U.S. GDP (ranking 6th).
In 2014, the Economist Intelligence Unit rated U.S. education as 14th best in the world. The Programme for International Student Assessment coordinated by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) currently ranks the overall knowledge and skills of American 15-year-olds as 19th in the world in reading literacy, mathematics, and science with the average American student scoring 495, compared with the OECD Average of 488. In 2017, 46.4% of Americans aged 25 to 64 attained some form of post-secondary education. 48% of Americans aged 25 to 34 attained some form of tertiary education, about 4% above the OECD average of 44%. 35% of Americans aged 25 and over have achieved a bachelor's degree or higher.