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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Early childhood and school education funding


3.Funding in education

3.1Early childhood and school education funding

Last update: 7 February 2024


Early childhood education and care (ECEC)

Authorised public and private ECEC services for children under the age of three that fall within the types envisaged by the regulations in force, i.e. centre based services (nidi d’infanzia), 'spring sections' (sezioni primavera) and supplementary services, are financed with State, regional and municipal funds. The State finances the integrated 0-6 (Sistema integrato zero-sei), which includes all ECEC 0-3 services and preprimary schools, with a national fund aimed at the gradual implementation of the multi-year National Plan for the promotion of the integrated system. The fund was established at the Ministry of education and merit with an allocation of resources that can be increased each year through agreements in the State/Regions Conference (Legislative Decree 65/2017)

School education

The State provides directly for the administrative and didactic functioning of schools. The Regions also provide directly but more often by delegation to local authorities for the provision of services and assistance for pupils (canteens, transport, textbooks in primary schools, subsidies, social and health care). Local authorities may provide for assistance and services by delegation from the Regions whereas, by their own competence, they provide schools with heating, lighting and telephones, construction and maintenance of school buildings.

The State finances state and paritarie preprimary schools in the same way as schools in the national education and training system. With the funds of the Recovery Plan, EUR 2.4 billion have been allocated for the creation and renovation of centre-based ECEC services (0-3) and EUR 600 million for preprimary schools, which will be allocated to municipalities through special calls for tenders.

The budget of the educational institutions consists of the funds allocated by the State for the administrative and didactic functioning. This budget is allocated without any destination constraint other than that of priority use for carrying out the education, training and guidance activities specific to each type of school. The allocation without any destination constraints implies the usability of the budget with the possibility of changing the destinations during the year. The annual size of the administrative-didactic operating fund is based on the following general criteria (Ministerial Decree 834/2015):

- Fixed amount,

- Number of pupils,

- Number of school premises belonging to the same institution (meant as legal entity),

- Number of pupils with disabilities,

- Presence of evening classes, prison schools, etc,

- Number of final grades in lower and in upper secondary schools.

The budget essential to functioning is distributed by the Ministry in two stages (D.I. 129/2018):

- in September each year, the budget for the September-December period is distributed and, at the same time, the school is notified of the budget until the end of the school year

- by 28 February, schools receive the quota for the period January-August.

In the school year 2022/2023, approximately 135 million Euros have been allocated for the educational-administrative functioning of schools.

In addition, schools also receive resources from national collective agreements, including resources of the Fund for the improvement of educational offerings (Fondo per il miglioramento dell'offerta formativa - FMOF). Other contributions may also come from the regions, local authorities, other bodies and private individuals for the implementation of projects promoted and financed with earmarked resources.

Resources for the courses of the regional vocational education and training system (IeFP) come mainly from the Regions/Provinces (38.2% in 2019), from funds provided by the Ministry of Labour and Social Policies (31.8% in 2019) and from EU resources (30% in 2019) (Source: INAPP, XIX rapporto di monitoraggio del sistema di Istruzione e Formazione Professionale e dei percorsi in duale nella IeFP a.f. 2019-2020, p. 45). The post-diploma/post-qualification courses are mainly financed by the European Social Fund, which comes from the competent Ministries to the Regions that use them.

Financial autonomy and control

Schools apply administrative and financial procedures established at central level by the Regulation on general indication on the administrative and accounting management of schools (Decree 219/2018).

Premises are provided by local authorities (municipalities for preprimary, primary and lower secondary schools and provinces for upper secondary schools) and the schools staff (teachers and other staff) is provided and paid by the State. Therefore, resources allocated by the State to schools are aimed at covering their own running costs for administrative and teaching purposes. Schools have full autonomy as for stipulating agreements, setting up and participate to networks for pursuing their institutional aims. Schools provide for the autonomous use also of financial resources coming from their own revenues, or from other funding from the State, the Regions, local authorities or other public or private bodies, provided funds are not bound to specific purposes. Schools may receive, upon acceptance from the School Council, donations and inheritances, even subject to conditions, provided that the conditions of the donor or the devisee do not conflict with the educational purposes of the school (D.I. 129/2018). 

Schools carry out their financial activities according to an annual accounting document indicating the expected revenue and expenditure. It is drawn up by the school head in collaboration with the responsible for the administrative affairs and approved by the school council. The document includes a report on the objectives to be reached and the allocation of resources, consistently to what foreseen in the school Three-year educational offer plan (Piano triennale dell’offerta formativa - PTOF). At the end of each financial year, the school draws up the balance. Control on the regularity of the school administrative and financial procedures is carried out by the board of auditors of each school.

Fees within public education

Early childhood education and care

In early childhood education services (0-3) families pay enrolment and attendance fees. The State and the Regions define the maximum threshold for family participation in the operation of public childcare services. Families can benefit from concessions, discounts or total exemption from costs, as established by individual municipalities based on the indicator on the economic situation of families called ISEE (Legislative Decree 65/2017).

At preprimary level although not compulsory, no attendance fees are required. For transport and canteen services, families pay a contribution, from which families with low income are usually exempted.

School education

At primary and lower secondary level, enrolment and attendance in a State or paritaria school are free of charge. The municipalities receive specific funds from the Regions to provide free textbooks to all pupils. Transport and canteen services are also provided by the municipalities against the payment of contributions by the families, except for some exemptions connected with families' economic conditions.

At upper secondary level, families are requested to pay fees for enrolment and attendance for pupils at the fourth and fifth year. Students from the first to third year, or until they turn 16, are exempted from paying school fees. In fact, all have the right/duty to complete compulsory education and to attend education and training up to the acquirement of a three-year qualification within 18 years of age. The amount of fees is low and established at the central level:

  • enrolment fees: 6.04 EUR
  • attendance fee: 15.13 EUR
  • fees to access examinations (the final State exam and examinations for those attending private and home education): 12.09 EUR
  • fees for the final certification: 15.13 EUR

Families may be exempted from paying enrolment and attendance fess in case of students with an average grade over 8/10, if their economic indicator (ISEE) is lower than 20 000 EUR, or if they belong to certain categories of citizens (e.g. orphans of persons killed at work, students with disabilities rating over 65%).

Schools can request the families to contribute for labs functioning, integrative and sport activities as well as for the purchase of consumption materials aimed at widening the educational offer of the school. Families contribute on a voluntary basis and the minimum amount of the contribution is established by the school Council.

Vocational training courses organised by the Regions are free.

Financial support for learners' families

In early childhood education services (0-3) for which families pay enrolment and attendance fees, municipalities can apply concessions, discounts or total exemption from costs, based on the indicator on the economic situation of families called ISEE (Legislative Decree 65/2017).

As for school education, preprimary school included, the possibility to offer financial aids directly to the families falls within the responsibility of single regions; therefore, it varies according to the different regional legislations. Generally, financial aids are contributions, reductions or total exemption of the payment for transport and meals, as well as reductions for purchasing teaching materials. Tax relief il of 19% for expenses up to a maximum of 800 EUR for each child attending a State or an independent school with parity (paritaria)

Financial aid is not provided to families of learners attending the regional vocational and training system (IeFP), except for some services and support measures, for example for guidance services and parenting support. Small amounts may be foreseen to cover travel expenses for those who attend post-compulsory courses within the regional vocational and training system.

Financial support for families of pupils with special educational needs

School assistance is a subject regulated by the Regions; therefore, the aids provided in this field follow the regional regulations. Generally, there are two types of aids:

  • direct interventions (scholarships, cheques, contributions aimed at granting or enable school attendance);
  • indirect interventions that foresee some free-of-charge services (transport, meals, textbooks and teaching materials, etc.).

In addition to the financial support generally provided for all pupils, municipalities offer support services and assistance to personal autonomy for pupils with disabilities.

Financial support for learners

Financial support for learners in upper secondary schools is foreseen both by the State and regional legislation. As for students of both State and paritarie schools, the State guarantees accomplishment of compulsory schooling and subsequent attendance of secondary school through grants to be awarded with priority to low-income families, based on regional calls. Regions also establish the amount of grants, which cannot be lower than 150 EUR and higher than 500 EUR.

Financial aids provided by the Regions, which are responsible for the right to study, are more conspicuous. These measures may be implemented directly by the Regions, or through the provinces or the municipalities; they may change from one Region to the other. Generally, they are the following:

  • school vouchers, to partially cover education expenses
  • financial contributions to purchase textbooks
  • free-of-charge transport and canteen services
  • non-recurring cheques for students of low-income and socially disadvantaged families
  • particular provisions for students with disabilities
  • free lodging in the national boarding schools and State girls' boarding schools as well as in the boarding schools annexed to the technical institutes and vocational institutes.

Regional vocational training courses (IeFP) are offered free of charge. Regions finance these courses through national funds allocated by the Ministry of Labour and by the Ministry of Education and merit and with their own resources.

Private education

Early childhood education and care

Early childhood education and care services (0-3) are run by public bodies or private subjects that can receive fundings from the State. Families pay enrolment and attendance fees and the State and the Regions define the maximum threshold for family participation in the operation of private childcare services that receive public funds. Families can benefit from discounts or total exemption from costs, as established by individual municipalities based on the indicator on the economic situation of families called ISEE (Legislative Decree 65/2017).

For non-State preprimary schools information is the same of non-State primary and secondary schools (please see below).

School education

Non-State schools, run by public or private subjects, can be either with parity (paritarie) or not.

Paritarie schools receive funds from the State to support their public function. Financial law of 2007 has provided that the Ministry should annually establish criteria to allocate resources to paritarie schools, giving priority to schools run by non-profit entities, or run by entities which are not linked or controlled by for-profit companies. As for school year 2022/2023, criteria have been established through Ministerial Decree 20/2023. Such funds are destined to preprimary, primary and secondary schools with parity in school year 2022/2023 that have provided and updated regularly all data required by the Ministry of education and merit. Besides State funding, also regional legislations regulate direct funding to schools and indirect incomes coming from students' families.

Families pay fees for enrolment and attendance that vary among schools and according to the level of education attended.

Schools without parity do not receive fundings from the State. Families pay fees for enrolment and attendance and they do not have tax relief. Information on accountability of this type of school is not available.


Contents revised: October 2023