Permanent State School Fund, the endowment for Utah’s public schools, hits record $3.3 billion

This November, Utahns will vote to raise the cap on annual distributions from this $3.3 billion permanent endowment for Utah schoolchildren.

SALT LAKE CITY – May 6, 2024 – Utah Treasurer Marlo M. Oaks announced the Permanent State School Fund, an endowment created at statehood to support public schools, now tops $3.3 billion.

Each school year, Utah students receive distributions from the Permanent State School Fund, augmenting tax-funded sources for K-12 schools. As Treasurer Oaks reported last November, public schools will receive a record $106 million distribution from the fund for the upcoming school year.

This November, Utahns will vote on a constitutional amendment that would raise the cap on distributions from the Permanent State School Fund from 4% to 5%. If the amendment were in place today, students would have received an estimated $13 million beyond the $106 million in LAND Trust distributions for the upcoming school year. The Raise the Cap Amendment aims to create more balanced distributions for current and future schoolchildren.

“Utah students are seeing the fruits of the prudent administration of trust lands and investment assets with the impressive growth of the fund,” Treasurer Oaks said. “Because of consistently strong investment returns, the fund needs to pay out more of its earnings today. The proposed constitutional amendment will give the School and Institutional Trust Funds Office the flexibility to meet its fiduciary obligation to balance funding between current and future students.”

Distributions from the Permanent School Fund are unique because each individual school determines the best use of funds through its School Community Council, comprising parents and educators. While a council at an elementary school may hire teaching aides for reading skills, a high school council may opt to support college prep or career training.

The $3.3 billion Permanent School Fund and record annual distributions from the fund are the result of strong performance by the Land Trusts System, a multi-agency effort to protect, build, invest, and manage trust assets.

“Growth of the Permanent School Fund from just $50 million thirty years ago to $3.3 billion today and its impact in classrooms, illustrates why Utah’s Trust System management is one of the most respected in the nation,” stated Kim Christy, Director of the Land Trusts Protection and Advocacy Office. “Its success is a tribute to dedicated professionals and the Utah Legislature framing a management structure built upon sound trust principles and allegiance to Trust beneficiaries.”  

Overseen by Treasurer Marlo Oaks, the Land Trusts Protection and Advocacy Office assures beneficiary interests are maximized by monitoring land management, fund investment, and distribution administration. The Trust Lands Administration (TLA) manages Utah’s 3.4 million acres of school trust lands, depositing revenue from the land into the Permanent State School Fund. The School and Institutional Trust Funds Office (SITFO) manages the investment portfolio of the Permanent School Fund. The School Children’s Trust administers the distribution program and supports School Community Councils.

Media Contacts:

Kim Christy, Director 
Land Trusts Protection & Advocacy Office

Brittany Griffin, Policy & Communications Deputy
Utah Office of State Treasurer