You Ask, We Answer: How Much Aid Do We Give Foreign Countries?

Kris from Concord, California, wrote in to ask how much aid the United States gives to foreign countries.

Foreign aid and diplomacy together comprise around 1 percent of the federal budget, or $56 billion in President Obama’s 2013 budget request.


That money goes toward global poverty alleviation, including a contribution to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, as well as peacekeeping operations conducted by the United Nations and general U.S. diplomatic activities around the world.

That $56 billion does not include foreign military assistance, which is estimated at an additional $14 billion in fiscal 2013. Foreign military assistance is the money we spend to train foreign armies and help them acquire weapons.

Foreign aid is the subject of a great deal of confusion among Americans. Many people erroneously believe that foreign aid comprises a huge chunk of U.S. federal spending, and numerous opinion polls show that a majority of Americans would like to reduce aid to other countries in order to shrink our budget deficits. Since foreign aid is in fact a small item in the scheme of the federal budget, eliminating all foreign aid and diplomacy would only make a small dent in the projected $901 billion deficit for fiscal 2013, and it would also be a drastic step for the U.S. that would erode its standing among peer nations.