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

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Beneficiary 2023

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 K-12  budget was $24 billion, so it takes a lot more than scratch-off tickets to fund schools.

Let’s break it down.

Does the lottery fund Michigan schools?

Lottery proceeds go to the Michigan School Aid Fund, contributing more than $1.3 billion last year. That’s about 5% of the fund. 

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.

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