Funded: State Policy Analysis

A Detailed Look at Each State's Funding Policies

Below, see summaries of the state’s education funding policy in each issue area. Click the Expand icon next to any summary to see more detail, if available, about that state’s policy regarding that issue area. Click the Citation icon
next to any summary to see the sources of the information regarding that issue area.
Funding Basics
Formula Type

Utah has a primarily student-based funding formula. It assigns a cost to the education of a student with no special needs or services, called a base amount. It then accounts for the additional cost of educating specific categories through program-specific allocations.

Services for students in certain grade levels, students with disabilities, students identified as gifted, students enrolled in career and technical education programs, students in sparsely populated districts, and other students needing greater-than-average academic support are funded through program-specific allocations.  The state also provides a number of other program-specific allocations.


Source 1
Source 2
Utah Code Ann. § 53A-17a-113 and 53A-17a-124.5

Base Amount

Utah has a fixed base funding amount per student. For FY2016, the per-student base amount was $3,092.

This means that an average student with no special needs or disadvantages would be funded at that level


Source 1

Expected Local Share

Utah expects its school districts to raise revenue to support their public schools. The amount each district is expected to raise is based on a combination of its property values and a defined share of the amount calculated by the state to be necessary to educate students within that district. The expected tax rate is calculated annually to satisfy a statewide expected local contribution. In FY2016, each district was expected to contribute $1.736 for every thousand dollars of property wealth for the purpose of funding its schools.

Each year, a total statewide local contribution amount is set, and the state calculates the tax rate that would be needed to produce that amount. In FY2016, the total local contribution amount was $380,172,300. The state also specifies the rate that would produce $75,000,000. The state then provides state aid equal to the amount by which the total amount of funding calculated by the state to be necessary to educate students within a district exceeds the difference between the proceeds of these two tax rates. If the necessary funding amount is fully covered by this difference, the district receives no state aid. If the expected tax rate generates more funding than is calculated to be necessary for the district, the excess is rebated to the state Department of Education and redirected to aid other districts.

School districts are permitted to impose taxes to generate supplemental revenue for maintenance and operations, subject to voter approval, up to a maximum tax rate of $2.00 per thousand dollars of property value, to be partially matched by additional state aid; for educational improvements, up to a maximum of $2.50 per thousand dollars of property value, to be partially matched by additional state aid; to raise the funds necessary to pay a court judgment; to fund capital projects, up to a maximum of $3.00 per thousand dollars of property value; and to pay the cost of debt service.


Source 1
Source 2
Utah Code Ann. § 53A-17a-135
Personal communication from Jaime Barrett, Minimum School Program Coordinator, Utah Department of Education, on 3/28/16 

Student Characteristics
Grade Level

Utah does not differentiate most kinds of education funding based on students’ grade levels. However, the state does provide additional funding for students in certain elementary grades to be used for specific purposes, and does provides different amounts of funding for charter school students in different grade levels.

The state appropriates funds to reduce class size in grades K-8. The total appropriation is divided among school districts in proportion to their K-8 enrollment, and it must be used for class size reduction, in accordance with specific guidelines. The state also allocates additional funding, to be distributed on a per-pupil basis for pupils in grades K-3, for reading improvement.

In charter schools only, the state provides different amounts of funding for students in different grade levels. It does so by applying multipliers to the base per-pupil amount for students in three different grade spans: the base amount is multiplied by 0.9 for students in grades 1‐6; by 0.99 for students in grades 7-8; and by 1.2 for students in grades 9-12.


Source 1
Source 2

Source 3
state statute 53A-17a-124.5

English-Language Learner

Utah does not provide increased funding for English language learners.

Student Poverty

Utah does not provide increased funding specifically for students from low-income households. However, the state does provide schools with general funding to serve at-risk students, broadly defined.  

When this allocation was created, the legislature generally directed the State Board of Education to use several factors, including student poverty, in determining the specific amount to be given to each school for this purpose.


Source 1

Special Education

Utah funds special education using a block grant, with each district’s grant amount based on allocations from a previous year. The state provides special education funding in an amount that is modified from year to year based on the growth in special education enrollment.

The number of students generating the aid is based on the previous-year allocation, to which the state adds an amount equal to the increase in special education enrollment between the previous year and the year before that, multiplied by 1.53. This calculation is subject to three limitations: special education enrollment in either prior year may not exceed 12.8% of total enrollment; the growth rate for special education enrollment cannot exceed the general enrollment growth rate in the district; and regardless of any drop in enrollment, the number of special-education pupils upon which the funding is based cannot be less than the average number of special education students enrolled over the previous five years. Once the number of students to be funded is determined, that number is multiplied by a per-student amount that is determined annually by the state legislature.

The remainder of state special education funding is distributed through specific program-based allocations, including funding for extended-year programs for the severely disabled; students in self-contained special education placements; students in state institutions; students whose education costs exceed $15,000; partial scholarships for special-needs students in private schools; and stipend funding for special educators working up to two extra weeks before or after the contracted school year.


Utah provides additional funding for gifted and talented students. It does so through a non-competitive grant.

Districts and charter schools receive funding for gifted and talented education in accordance with a formula set by the State Board of Education. In FY2016, the amount appropriated for this purpose was approximately $5 million.


Source 1

Career and Technical Education

Utah provides specific funding for career and technical education (CTE) programs. It does so through program-based allocations, by providing some funding on a per-student basis, and by inflating districts’ student count to generate extra funding.

As part of an appropriation called the CTE District Set-Aside, each school district receives a flat allocation of $10,000 for CTE programs. The remainder of the funds appropriated for this purpose are allocated in two equal portions: one that is distributed proportionally to districts based on their prior-year CTE program enrollment, and one that is distributed in response to districts’ CTE proposals. Additionally, the state inflates districts’ student counts and then provides the state’s regular per-student funding on the basis of each district’s inflated count rather than its true student population in order to generate funding for specific CTE purposes. The state also provides a CTE Add-On amount intended to help districts cover the higher costs associated with CTE courses.

Extra student units are allocated to districts in the following amounts: 20 student units for CTE administrative costs, or 25 if the district consolidates CTE administrative services with other districts; between 10 and 25 student units for each high school conducting approved CTE programs in a district; 40 student units for each district operating an approved CTE Center; and between 5 and 7 student units for each summer CTE agriculture program.


Source 1

Community Characteristics
District Poverty

Utah does not provide increased funding based on the concentration of students from low-income households in a particular district.

Sparsity and/or Small Size

Utah provides increased funding for school districts operating small schools, including small schools in remote areas, by inflating the student count to generate extra funding. The state also provides transportation assistance funding for districts transporting small student populations to remote school locations.

Small schools in remote areas (which are defined by student enrollments below 160 for elementary schools and 550 for four-year secondary schools and by the amount of time students must travel to attend them) receive additional pupil units based on a multi-step formula that considers student enrollment and grade levels served. The maximum number of students that can be added to a small, remote elementary school is 54.8, while the maximum for secondary schools range from 119.1 to 150.4 based on the number of grades and student counts in these schools.

Small schools not in remote areas, which may have no more than 5,000 students, receive between 60 and 95 additional pupil units, depending on their enrollments.


Source 1
Source 2
Utah Code Ann. § 53A-17a-108