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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: 21 December 2022


Financial resources for the administrative and educational management of schools come from the State (divided into ordinary and supplementary allotments). Such funds are destined schools without any constraints but their priority destination to educational, training and guidance activities.

Some contributions can be provided by Regions, local authorities and other public bodies and private organisations. Such funds are destined to the implementation of projects supported by funds with specific allocations. Schools are not allowed to accept donations and inheritance.

The State is responsible for school funding both for educational and administrative purposes. Regions have to provide directly, but more often delegating to Provinces and Municipalities, services and assistance to students (canteens, transportation, textbooks for primary schools, aid to the less wealthy, social and health assistance) out of their own budget and they also have to finance plans for the building of schools. Provinces and Municipalities can be delegated by the Region to provide assistance and services, whereas they are directly responsible for providing for school heating, lighting and telephone connections, maintaining school buildings.

As for the vocational education and training  system falling under the competences of the Regions (IeFP), courses are mainly financed by Regions and Provinces (approx. 48%); the second source of funding is the European Social Fund (approx. 27%), whereas the remaining 19% and 6% come from the Ministry of labour and the Ministry of education and merit, respectively (Source: ISFOL, Rapporto di Monitoraggio del diritto-dovere, 2008, p. 62). Resources are allocated directly for training activities (90%), while the remaining 10% is destined to activities for underage apprentices, system development (e.g. databases and registers) and measures to tackle dropouts (e.g. rehabilitation activities carried out by the recruitment offices of the Provinces). Post-secondary courses are mainly financed through the European Social Fund allocated to the Regions by either the Ministry of labour or the Ministry of education and merit.

As for the Higher Technical education and training system (IFTS), the Ministry regularly allocates financial resources through a specific fund established according to three-year plans deliberated by the Regions (law 296/2006). In order to access the resources and to realize IFTS courses, Regions are required to co-finance for at least 30% of the amount allocated by the Ministry to the Regions in the fund itself. The three-year plans deliberated by the Regions receive the financial contribution from the Ministry only if they meet specific financial and procedural conditions.

Financial autonomy and control

Schools apply administrative and financial procedures established at central level (Ministerial Decree no. 44 of 2001).

Premises are provided by local authorities (Communes and Provinces for primary and secondary schools, respectively) 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 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 can autonomously make use of other resources coming from their own incomes, from the State, the Regions, local authorities or other public or private bodies, provided funds are not bound to specific earmarking.

Schools carry out their financial activities according to an annual accounting document called 'programme', drawn up by the school head 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 Plan of the educational offer (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.

Regional IeFP courses are financed by the Ministries of Labour and education or the ESF, through resources allocated to the Regions and, in case, from the Regions to the Provinces. Resources can be bound and spent the following school year. Anyhow, the timing of allocation of resources depends on the institutions transferring the resources to the Regions (EU, Ministries and ESF managing authorities).

Regions must send to the Ministry of Labour and to Inapp (National institute for the analysis of public policies, former Isfol) information on the quality (curricula, guidelines, etc) and on quantities (number of courses, number of learners, financial resources) of courses. Based on these information, they then draw up the annual monitory report.

Fees within public education

At pre-primary level there are no fees to be paid, in spite of it not being compulsory. Families pay a small contribution, from which low-income households are exempted, towards transport and canteen services

At primary and lower secondary level, enrolment and attendance in a State or paritaria school are completely 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.

Payment of enrolment and attendance fees is required only for upper secondary schools. The amount is low and established at the central level. However, students who enrol in the first, second and third grades of upper secondary schools, are exempted from paying school fees. This is due to the fact that the diritto/dovere to education and training can be fulfilled by acquiring a 3-year qualification at upper secondary level, both in the state educational and training system and in the regional initial vocational training.

Schools can request the families to pay minimum contributions for labs functioning, integrative and sport activities as well as for the purchase of consumption materials.

Both vocational training courses offered by the Regions and Higher level technical education and training courses are offered free of charge.

Financial support for learners' families

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 in money, reductions or total exemption of the payment for transport and meals, as well as reductions for text books purchase.

Financial aid is not provided to families of learners attending the regional vocational and training system, except for some services and support measures (e.g. guidance).

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, that the Communes offer support services and assistance to personal autonomy for pupils with disabilities.

Financial support for learners

Financial support for learners 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; grants do not consist in money, but in tax allowances corresponding to the costs born for school attendance (Law 62/2000).

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 communes; they may change from one Region to the other. Generally they are the following:

  • school vouchers, to cover partially 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 disabled students;
  • 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 their own funds and also through funds allocated by the Ministry of Labour and by the Ministry of Education.

Post-compulsory regional vocational training courses are mainly offered free of charge and small contributions may be destined to learners to cover daily travel expenses.

IFTS courses are free of charge. They are co-financed by the Ministry and by the Regions; however, also private financing can be foreseen

Private education

Paritarie schools receive funds from the State. 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 2010/2011, criteria have been established through Ministerial Decree no. 25/2011.

Besides State funding, also Regional legislation regulates direct funding to schools and indirect incomes coming from students' families.