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Michigan elections FAQ: Does Michigan Lottery money go directly to schools?

Ad for the Michigan Lottery, highlighting the money goes to schools
The Michigan Lottery makes sure residents know that proceeds from all those tickets go to schools. (Bridge courtesy photo)
  • Bridge is answering questions from readers throughout the campaign season
  • Readers ask what happens to lottery proceeds earmarked for education: Do schools really receive these funds?
  • While an additional lottery ticket purchase may bring more money to the school aid fund, the answer is much more complicated 

Bridge Michigan recently launched its Ask Bridge Anything feature in its Voter Guide that invites readers to ask questions about politics in our purple state.

Several readers had similar questions, and while they aren’t directly connected to the upcoming election, they are so so common that Bridge is answering them:


The first: “When the Michigan Lottery ticket sales went into being the proceeds were ear-marked for education. Whatever happened to the proceeds? Where do they go and who benefits?”

And the second: “How much of the lottery money actually goes to my local school? How are the allocations determined?”


Since 1972, all proceeds from the Michigan Lottery have gone toward the Michigan School Aid Fund, a budget that pays for public school operations. 

Over the years, proceeds to the fund have totaled more than $28 billion. Lottery officials make sure residents know that, with advertising that ticks off the total dollars the games’ proceeds have provided to classrooms across the state.

But that tally spans a half century. Last year alone, the state’s schools budget was $24 billion, so it takes a lot more than scratch-off tickets to fund education.

Let’s break it down.

Does the lottery fund Michigan schools?

Lottery proceeds go to the Michigan School Aid Fund, which makes up the majority of the state’s total schools budget. Last year, the lottery contributed more than $1.3 billion. That’s about 5% of the full education budget. 

How much of lottery spending goes to schools?

About 27 cents of every dollar spent on the lottery in Michigan goes to schools. The rest: 61 cents goes toward prizes, 9 cents toward retail and vendors and 3 cents to lottery operations. 

For example, in 2023, total lottery sales were $4.9 billion. Of this, about $3 billion went to prizes, $441 million went to retail and vendors while $147 million went to operations. This left $1.3 billion for the school aid fund. 

Do all the net proceeds go to K-12 schools?

A common misconception is that all $1.3 billion of last year’s lottery proceeds go toward K-12 education. 

This was the case until an “economic downturn in 2010,” according to Robert McCann, the executive director at K-12 Alliance of Michigan. 

Today, lottery proceeds are spent primarily on K-12, but also on the state’s public colleges and universities and pre-K. 

“Every year since, they have taken what is totaled up to the billions of dollars out of the School Aid Fund that traditionally had gone only to our K-12 schools and spent it on what used to be programs funded by the general fund, but again, primarily universities and community colleges,” McCann said.


If more lottery tickets are sold, do schools get more money?

Not necessarily. It’s true that when more lottery tickets are sold, more money is available. 

However, the Legislature could decide that those extra dollars coming into the School Aid Fund can “free up” dollars that would have otherwise gone to schools to be used for other purposes.

It’s “often a misconception from the public that our schools are largely funded by the lottery. And that's just not the case,” McCann said.

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