Accounting for Public Schools Vs. Private Schools

Understand the difference in accounting for private schools vs public schools, in terms of balancing the budget, collecting school fees, and paying the staff. Better Accounting Solutions is here to help with all you need to know about accounting for schools.

Bookkeeping for Public Schools Vs. Private Schools

Bookkeeping for public schools and private schools may have some similarities, such as maintaining financial records and preparing budgets, but there are also some key differences.

Public schools are funded by taxpayers and are subject to government regulations and oversight. They must follow specific guidelines and procedures for financial management, such as adhering to laws and regulations related to purchasing, bidding, and accounting. Additionally, they are required to make their financial records available to the public.

Private schools, on the other hand, are not funded by taxpayers and may have more flexibility in terms of financial management. However, they still must comply with state and federal laws, including those related to taxes and nonprofit organizations. They may also be required to submit financial reports to accrediting bodies or to donors. Additionally, they need to manage and balance the budget to meet their financial goals and have the funds to continue operation.

In summary, public schools have more regulations and oversight to follow, while private schools have more flexibility, but still need to comply with laws and regulations and balance their budget to meet their financial goals.

How Do Both Public Schools and Private Schools Maintain Financial Records?

​​Schools typically maintain financial records using accounting software or spreadsheets. These records include information on income (e.g. tuition, grants, donations) and expenses (e.g. staff salaries, building maintenance, instructional materials). 

How Do Both Public Schools and Private Schools Prepare Budgets?

Budget preparation typically involves forecasting future income and expenses, and determining how funds will be allocated to various programs and expenses. This process may involve input from various departments and stakeholders, and may be reviewed and approved by a school board or other governing body. In addition, many schools are required to submit financial reports to government agencies, and may also be subject to audits.

What Bookkeeping Laws and Regulations Must Public Schools Follow?

Public schools must follow guidelines set by the federal government, such as those outlined in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), as well as any state-specific laws and regulations. These guidelines cover areas such as financial reporting, budgeting, and auditing. Additionally, schools must also follow generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) and adhere to the regulations set by the state Department of Education

What Bookkeeping Laws and Regulations Must Private Schools Follow?

Private schools are subject to the same bookkeeping laws and regulations as any other business. These include:

  • Keeping accurate financial records, such as income and expenses, in accordance with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP)
  • Filing annual tax returns with the IRS and state tax authorities
  • Complying with state and federal labor laws, including minimum wage and overtime requirements
  • Adhering to laws related to employee benefits, such as providing workers' compensation insurance
  • Complying with laws related to tuition and fees, such as providing refunds or credits if the school closes or otherwise fails to fulfill its obligations

Additionally, private schools may also be subject to specific laws and regulations related to education, such as accreditation requirements and standards for curriculum and instruction. It's important for private schools to consult with legal and financial professionals to ensure compliance with all applicable laws and regulations.

How Are Public Schools and Private Schools Funded?

Private schools are typically funded through a combination of tuition payments, donations, and endowments. Some private schools also receive funding from religious organizations or foundations.

Public schools are primarily funded by state and local governments, with the majority of funding coming from property taxes. Federal funding also contributes to public education, primarily in the form of grants for specific programs such as special education and Title I funding for high-poverty schools. Some states also have additional funding sources for public schools, such as sales or income taxes.

We’re so happy you found this article informative! Head back to our blog page to learn more tips, tricks and guidance on accounting to maximize your business’s growth and development. 


Running a business is complicated, accounting shouldn't be. 

Let our team of professional accountants take care of your books and receive accurate, detailed reports every month. Our team of experts is laser-focused on the latest trends and premier customer satisfaction, so you can always be sure you’re getting the best care and service. Your personal account manager will focus on handling your books, giving you back your time to focus on growing your business and leading it forward.

Click here to schedule a FREE consultation to join the hundreds of business owners already working with Better Accounting Solutions to help your businesses grow TODAY!

Go To Form
No items found.