School Funding

School Funding

School education is compulsory because it is a common good that benefits all children as well as our Australian society.

This is why governments fund students to be in a school of their parents’ choosing.

Australia’s education sector is diverse and gives parents a choice of government schools, Catholic system schools and a wide range of independently owned and operated schools which include low fee to high fee schools, faith-based and secular schools, and schools for children with special needs.

Government funding follows the child to the school chosen by their parents and is based on their educational needs.

Schooling Resource Standard

The level of funding for each school is based on a measure called the Schooling Resource Standard (SRS), which estimates how much funding a school needs to educate its students.*

The SRS is made up of a base amount for each primary or secondary student, plus additional amounts called loadings for six types of disadvantage:

  1.    Disability
  2.    Low English proficiency
  3.    Parents’ work/education level
  4.    First Nations
  5.    Remote schools
  6.    Small schools

The 2024 base amounts are:

  •    $13,557 per primary student, and
  •    $17,036 per secondary student

*The SRS funding amounts are calculated based on the cost of educating a child at a school where at least 80% of students meet minimum NAPLAN standards for three years in a row.


School Funding

School Funding

School funding is complex. This snapshot gives you a quick and easy overview to help you answer any questions you may have about school funding.

Government school funding

In Government schools, the SRS is paid jointly by the relevant state or territory government (80%) and the Commonwealth (20%). Parents may contribute voluntary fees on top of the governments’ funding, but no reduction is made to the SRS amount based on parents’ income or any funding raised.

School Funding

Independent school funding

Parents’ income does determine how much government funding Independent schools attract. The more parents earn, the less government funding is provided to Independent schools. Government funding for Independent schools is shared between the Commonwealth (80%) and the relevant state or territory government (20%).

Capacity to Contribute Information Page

For Independent schools, government funding of the base amount is reduced according to parents’ Capacity to Contribute (CTC).

This is calculated using parents’ income tax data to determine the median parent income for each Independent school.

Each Independent school is then assigned a CTC score between 60 and 180, based on its parents’ median income.

Learn More About CTC

School Funding FAQs

Still got questions? Explore further frequently asked questions on school funding.

School Funding FAQs

Other points

  • Exemptions from CTC discounts: Special schools, Special Assistance Schools, majority Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander schools and sole-provider schools do not have their funding reduced according to parents’ income. There is also no CTC-based reduction for Distance Education students, who attract 45% of the SRS funding amount to their school’s base amount.
  • No limit to government funding each year: The school funding totals in State and Federal Budgets each year are merely estimates; they are not a limit on the amount of funding available. If a sector enrols more students than expected, the government simply provides more funding to that sector. Likewise, if a sector enrols fewer students than expected, the government reduces its funding to that sector. No school or sector ever misses out, because school funding never ‘runs out’.
  • Schools attract funding, but don’t receive it. Funding is calculated for each school, but it goes to the school’s owner, not the school. If an owner has a ‘system’ of schools, eg a Department of Education or a diocesan Catholic Education Office, the funding attracted by all their schools is pooled. The owner then provides each school with the staff and other resources it needs.
  • Accountability and transparency: All schools report their public and private income and expenditure annually through a Financial Questionnaire. A summary is published on the MySchool website. The Commonwealth also conducts a random audit of some 300 schools per year to ensure funding is provided accurately.
  • Additional income for Government schools: Government schools can raise funding through voluntary fees, hire of school facilities, etc without losing any of their government-funded SRS entitlement.
  • School fees: Non-government schools can set fees as low or as high as they wish. It has no bearing on their government funding entitlement, which is based only on parents’ Capacity to Contribute (the median fee collected in NSW Independent schools is less than $6,000 per year).