Accession Number:



School Construction and Renovation: A Review of Federal Programs and Legislation

Descriptive Note:

[Technical Report, Congressional Report]

Corporate Author:

Congressional Research Service

Personal Author(s):

Report Date:


Pagination or Media Count:



By some measures, spending on new construction and renovation in public elementary and secondary schools in the United States in FY2018 was over 50 billion. Although there is currently no ongoing federal collection of data on the conditions of schools, a one-time report by the Department of Education in 2014 estimated that the cost of repairs, renovations, and modernization required to bring 2012-2013 public school facilities into good condition was approximately 197 billion, or 4.5 million per school. Additionally, in 2020 the Government Accountability Office estimated that 54 of public school districts need to update or replace multiple building systems or features e.g., HVAC, structural integrity, roofing in their schools. School construction and renovation have traditionally been considered to be primarily state and local responsibilities. Nonetheless, the federal government has established a role in financing school construction and renovation. The federal government provides both indirect support for school construction mainly by exempting from federal income taxation the interest on state and local governmental bonds used to finance school construction and renovation and direct support via grants and loans. Few federal programs focus specifically on supporting school infrastructure. However, numerous federal programs provide financial support that may be used, at least to some extent, for school construction, renovation, or repair. Federal programs that provide support for school construction and renovation may be categorized according to their availability. For instance, some sources of federal support are broadly and consistently available others are available only episodically, such as in the aftermath of a disaster. Additional programs are targeted toward specific geographic areas or populations, while still others are available for specific institutions or types of institutions.

Subject Categories:

  • Economics and Cost Analysis
  • Government and Political Science

Distribution Statement:

[A, Approved For Public Release]