Teachers Spending Significant Amounts Out of Pocket to Help Students

This week, the National Center For Education Statistics issued a report on teachers spending their own money to purchase school supplies. The results of the survey were surprising in many ways. The survey found that 94 percent of the teachers in the United States were spending their own money to purchase school supplies and other items for their students.


Of these 94 percent of teachers purchasing items for students, the average expenditure was $479 per year. The study found that 7 percent of teachers spent over $1,000 a year on supplies for students. The average for those teachers who taught in schools where over 75 percent of the students were in poverty was $551 per year.


An interesting fact of the survey was that teachers were paying for more than just traditional school supplies. Some teachers are paying for winter clothing for their students who don’t have coats and boots. Teachers also are often paying for items like cupcakes and treats for the class when a poorer student has a birthday and can’t pay for those items himself or herself.


Back in 2002, the Congress passed legislation allowing teachers to deduct up to $250 off their taxes for out of pocket school supply purchases. When the new tax legislation that was just passed was being considered, some lawmakers tried to remove this exemption. That effort failed. Now, some in Congress want to increase the tax exemption for teachers who purchase their own supplies up to $500 per year. That would be welcome relief for the majority of teachers especially those in high poverty areas.

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