The Land of Confusion: A Review of Online Student Funding.


The Land of Confusion: A Review of Online Student Funding. (2022). Digital Learning Collaborative. 


Even before the COVID-19 pandemic forced schools into emergency remote learning, about 375,000 students were attending full-time online schools. These schools were operating as charter or district schools in more than 30 states, drawing students from regions or entire states. During the pandemic in school year 2020–21, the number of students in these pre-existing full-time online schools increased by 75%, to more than 650,000 students, and additional states have been approving such schools. This study reviews available evidence for funding amounts for online students and funding mechanisms for online students. It first presents funding levels and mechanisms in a subset of states, and then explores several different concepts related to online student funding. As these numbers are presented, it is important to keep in mind that every state has a highly complex formula with an impressive amount of different variables. This study intends to demonstrate broad scale differences while presenting numbers that best represent the general trends and directions of state funding amounts.


  • Digital Learning Collaborative

Reference Type



  • Online student funding