PRESS RELEASE: SFRC releases updated report on cost to educate a Michigan student during, post-COVID-19

Study evaluates cost of additional technology, social, emotional needs, implementing new state academic standards and policies

LANSING, Mich. — The School Finance Research Collaborative today released an update of its landmark 2018 school adequacy study to reflect the increased cost to educate a Michigan child during and post-COVID-19.

The revised study, “Update to Costing Out the Base Resources Needed to Meet Michigan’s Standards and Requirements” determined an updated base per-student cost to meet increased needs posed by the pandemic and implement new state academic standards and education-related legislation.

“The original SFRC study was a groundbreaking look at Michigan’s school funding model, and given all that has changed since it was released three years ago, it was time to update it and make it more relevant than ever,” said Robert McCann, School Finance Research Collaborative project manager. “What we found is that the needs of our schools have only continued to grow while funding has struggled to even keep up. While federal funding is temporarily filling in those gaps in our state’s K-12 funding model, it’s clear we must act now to replace that broken system with one that meets the unique needs of every school and every student while we have the opportunity.”

Since the SFRC’s 2018 study, the base per-pupil cost to educate a Michigan student has increased by $831 from $9,590 to $10,421, the updated study found. Read the full report here.

To determine the updated base per-student cost, the study:

  • Convened a panel of educators to review potential base per-student cost updates.
  • Held panels to examine district-level costs and pricing changes and determine additional school-level resource needs.
  • Calculated the cost of additional technology hardware and support, social and emotional health services, and maintenance and operation needs.
  • Determined the cost of implementing full online and hybrid learning models, increased professional and development needs for teachers, and extended learning time to combat learning loss.
  • Determined the cost to provide resources to meet new state academic standards.
  • Evaluated costs to implement Michigan’s third-grade reading law and new Career and Technical Education standards, among other recent state law changes.

The updated base per-student cost lays the groundwork to calculate additional costs to educate students living in poverty, those enrolled in special education programs and English Language Learners, and expand access to Career and Technical Education programs. Like the original study, the revised study was conducted by Augenblick, Palaich and Associates, the nation’s top school finance research firm.

“Our revised study captures an unprecedented time in our state’s history, and presents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for lawmakers to once and for all adopt a new school funding approach that helps every child succeed, regardless of zip code, income, learning challenges or other circumstances,” McCann said. “We look forward to working with Gov. Whitmer and lawmakers from both parties to incorporate these changes in the 2022 budget and beyond.”

The Collaborative’s 2018 study determined the true cost of educating a student at that time, with additional funding considerations for special education students, students living in poverty, English Language Learners and Career and Technical Education programs.

The School Finance Research Collaborative is a diverse group of business leaders and education experts, from Metro Detroit to the U.P., who agree it’s time to change the way Michigan’s schools are funded.


For media inquiries, contact Christopher Behnan, Byrum & Fisk Communications, at (517) 333-1606, ext. 1