The Cost of Distance Learning: Teachers Spend $745 Out of Pocket on School Supplies

Share Article releases 2020 classroom spending survey of nearly 4,000 PreK-12 teachers., the national nonprofit that provides funding for U.S. teachers and schools, released today the results of their 2020 classroom spending survey of 3,938 PreK-12 teachers at public, private and charter schools. The June 2020 survey found that teachers spent an average of $745 of their own money to purchase learning materials during the 2019/2020 school year. More than a third of their school supply expenses were for distance learning materials, which cost them an average of $252 this spring.

In response to distance learning, 74% of teachers spent their own money purchasing home printing items (printer, ink, paper), 41% purchased postage and mailing supplies to send supplies to students, 37% purchased software and 37% purchased classroom consumables (pens, pencils, markers, folders, notebooks) for their students.

But the cost of distance learning extends beyond the expense of purchasing supplies. Seventy percent of teachers said they dropped off or mailed items to their students’ homes to help keep them engaged with distance learning. Teachers estimate that 43% of students were disengaged (missing class activities or assignments 50% or more of the time) during distance learning this spring.

Fifty-five percent of teachers said students who were disengaged during distance learning didn’t have a stable home environment, housing, or food. Fifty-three percent of teachers said students who were disengaged during distance learning didn’t have access to the internet at home.

If distance learning continues this fall, 59% of teachers said they will need technology for students, 57% need software, 49% need classroom consumables, 49% need postage and mailing supplies, 48% need technology for their own homes so they can teach remotely.

Visit to read more about the results of our survey or to see how to support educators who need learning supplies.

We are a national, award-winning nonprofit that provides the most flexible and accountable funding for K-12 teachers and schools throughout the U.S. Our proprietary, easy-to-use education fundraising platform helps teachers, principals, and administrators give every child the tools they deserve to succeed in school. Since 1998, we have raised $39 million and supported 5.4 million students. As a 501(c)(3) organization, we hold a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and a platinum rating of transparency from Guidestar. For more information, or to make a donation, please visit

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Devon Karbowski
since: 08/2009
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