What If We Spent $2 Trillion On Education?

We spent $1.7 trillion on the Iraq war. Now (February 2020) Congress is considering a two trillion dollar stimulus bill. This is a huge amount of money. What could we buy if we spent it on education?

Two trillion dollars is a huge amount of money... what if we spent it on education?

How we could spend $2 trillion on education:


Send half the adults in the U.S. on an overseas educational program. We could send 142 million Americans abroad for $55,000 per person (the Peace Corps average).

Make public-college tuition free in the U.S. for 20 years. According to this article, $63B per year would do the trick.

Equalize the funding gap between rich and poor K-12 districts for 45 years. Assumes $1,500 per student per year (average) for 25M students, would close this gap.

Give every K-12 teacher in the U.S. a 30% raise, for 20 years. Cost: about $90 billion a year.

Give 1,700,000 million-dollar challenge prizes to students and teachers. The E-prize?

Hook up every school in the world to high-speed Internet. It would cost $3.2 billion to do this in the U.S… leaving $1,696 billion to do all the other countries.

Give $226 to each of the 7.5 billion people on the planet, to buy books. We probably could even negotiate a big discount.

Buy a Chromebook laptop for almost everyone on the planet. Chromebooks for education cost around $300. So we could buy 5.6 billion of them.

Fund preschool for every kid in the U.S., for 25 years. Read this for more on why early childhood education is important, and this for how much it costs.

Fund eight million full scholarships to top universities. Yes, eight million.

Double the federal Pell grant program, and fully fund it for 30 years. The current program costs $30 billion a year.

Double the quality of school lunches, and provide 280 billion of them. Current average cost is three bucks per lunch;

Provide 42 billion hours of private tutoring to needy students. At $40/hour.

Give $550,000 to every public school teacher to use in their classroom. There are 3.1 million public school teachers in the U.S.

Give $7 million to each principal to spend on their schools. There are 240,000 school principals (elementary, middle, and high school) in the U.S.


You get the idea. I’m not advocating for any of these specifically. When I originally wrote this post in 2017, I simply wanted to illustrate what a staggering amount of money $1.7 trillion was.

For more information on the cost of the war in Iraq (and those in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Syria, not counted in the $1.7 trillion), see the detailed “Costs of War” reports by Brown University’s Watson Institute.

If you feel like giving a little money yourself to support education, but don’t have a trillion or two, check out Donors Choose.

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– Nelson Mandela

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