Georgia is now the latest state to make personal finance education mandatory

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp makes a remark during a visit to the Adventure Outdoors gun store as he pushes for new state law to relax requirements for carrying a firearm fist in public, in Smyrna, Georgia, on January 5, 2022.

Alyssa Pointer | Reuters

Georgia high school students will soon have guaranteed access to a personal finance course before they graduate.

On Thursday, Republican Governor Brian Kemp signed into law SB 220, a bill requiring personal finance courses for high school students. Beginning in the 2024-25 school year, all 11th and 12th graders will be required to take at least one half-credit course in financial literacy before graduating.

The measure “will ensure that [students] teach financial literacy in our schools, like the importance of good credit and how to budget properly so they can be better prepared for the world beyond the classroom,” Kemp said during the signing event.

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A growing trend

Georgia is the 13th state to make personal finance education mandatory for its students, according to the nonprofit Next Gen Personal Finance, which tracks those bills.

It’s the latest in a growing trend of states adding personal finance education. Over the past 12 months, Florida, Nebraska, Ohio, and Rhode Island have passed similar laws and are in the process of implementing them for all students.

Once Georgia’s bill is implemented, it will mean that more than 35% of American students will have access to a financial literacy course. That’s more than double the share of students who accessed such courses in 2018, according to Next Gen Personal Finance.

It is important to have laws requiring personal finance education to ensure students have a level playing field. There are high schools offering personal finance courses in states without a mandate, but access isn’t equal, according to a recent report by the nonprofit.

Only 10% of students in states without guaranteed access to personal finance can take such a course. That share drops to 1 in 20 in schools where 75% of students are non-white or receive a free, reduced lunch.

What state can be next

There are still a few states with pending legislation that could pass later in the year.

South Carolina, for example, has a bill currently in conference committee. Now that Georgia’s legislation has become law, South Carolina is the only state in the Southeast that doesn’t have mandatory personal finance courses, according to Tim Ranzetta, co-founder of Next Gen Personal Finance.