Education Facts At a Glance

Updated February 21, 2017 | Factmonster Staff

School facts from the Census Bureau

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Back-to-School Shopping

$6.0 billion
The amount of money spent at family clothing stores in August 2004. Only in October, November, and December—the holiday shopping season—were sales higher. Similarly, bookstore sales in August 2004 totaled $2.0 billion, an amount equaled in 2004 only by sales in December and January.

If you’re not sure where to do your back-to-school shopping, choices of retail establishments abound in the United States: In 2002, there were 22,897 family clothing stores; 6,119 children’s and infants’ clothing stores; 27,961 shoe stores; 9,267 office supplies and stationery stores; 23,018 sporting goods stores; 12,178 bookstores, and 10,418 department stores.


74.9 million
The number of people enrolled in school throughout the country—from nursery school to college. That amounts to more than one-fourth of the U.S. population age 3 and older.

School Enrollment

About 60%
Percentage of 3- and 4-year-olds enrolled in nursery school, up from about 6% in 1964, when these data were first collected.

Percentage of children enrolled in kindergarten who attend all day, up from 20% three decades earlier.

54.6 million
The projected number of students to be enrolled in the nation’s elementary and high schools (grades K-12) this fall. That number exceeds the 1970 total of 51.3 million, when virtually all of these students were "baby boomers," who swelled school enrollments.

The national decrease in elementary school-age children between 2003 and 2004. Only six states experienced an increase in this population during that period: Arizona, Nevada, Florida, North Carolina, Colorado, and Georgia.

The increase in the nation’s high school-age population between 2003 and 2004. More than two-thirds of the states experienced an increase in this group over that period, led by California (78,000), Florida (33,000), and New York (24,000).

Projected percentage of elementary and high school students enrolled in private schools this fall.

Percentage of elementary and high school students who are minorities (i.e., people who are non-Hispanic white). This compares with 21% in 1970, when the crest of the baby-boom was enrolled at this level of school.

Percentage of elementary and high school students with at least one foreign-born parent. This includes 6% who were foreign-born themselves.


9.9 million
Number of school-age children (5 to 17) who speak a language other than English at home. These children make up nearly 1-in-5 in this age group. Most of them (7.0 million) speak Spanish at home.


29.0 million
Average number of children participating each month in the national school lunch program.

10.1 billion
The nation’s total apple production, in pounds, in 2004. The chances are good that the apples your children present to their teachers or enjoy for lunch were grown in Washington state, which accounted for more than half of the nation’s total production.


Percentage of the 2003 high school graduating class that went directly to college.

16.7 million
The projected number of students enrolled in the nation’s colleges and universities this fall. This is up from 12.1 million a quarter-century ago.

Percentage of all college students age 25 and over. The majority of these older students (56%) attend school part-time.

Ratio of undergraduates attending two-year institutions.

Teachers and Other School Personnel

6.5 million
Number of teachers in the United States. The bulk of them (2.6 million) teach at the elementary and middle school level.

Average annual salary of public elementary and secondary school teachers in California as of the 2002–2003 school year—highest of any state in the nation. Teachers in South Dakota received the lowest pay—$32,400. The national average was $45,900.

Average hourly wage for the nation’s school bus drivers. Custodians earned $12.40 while cafeteria workers made $9.98. (The federal minimum wage is $5.15.)

Technology in the Schools

14.1 million
Number of computers available for classroom use in the nation’s 114,000 elementary and secondary schools; that works out to one computer for every four students.

The Rising Cost of College

Average tuition, room, and board (for in-state students) at the nation’s four-year public colleges and universities for an entire academic year; that is double the corresponding figure in 1990.

Average tuition, room, and board at the nation’s four-year private colleges and universities for one complete academic year; that is more than double the corresponding 1990 figure.

The Rewards of Staying in School

Average annual earnings of workers age 18 and over with an advanced degree. This compares with $51,206 a year for those with bachelor’s degrees, $27,915 for those with a high school diploma only and $18,734 for those without a high school diploma.

Average starting salary offered to bachelor’s degree candidates in petroleum engineering, among the highest of any field of study. At the other end of the spectrum were those majoring in the social sciences; they were offered an average of $29,098.


3.1 million
Projected number of high school diplomas that will be awarded this school year.

2.7 million
Number of college degrees expected to be conferred this school year.

Government Spending on Education

The per-pupil expenditure on elementary and secondary education nationally in 2003. The District of Columbia ($13,328) spent the most among states or state-equivalents, followed by New Jersey ($12,202), New York ($12,140), Connecticut ($10,372), and Vermont ($10,322).

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