Personal finance education is gaining momentum in the United States

Nine-year-old student Roberto Nieves Fernandez studies personal finance topics on his laptop using the SmartPath online resource center.


More and more states are requiring students to take personal finance education courses before they graduate from high school.

There are currently 23 states that mandate a personal finance course for students, according to the 2022 survey of states released Thursday by the Council for Economic Education.

Since 2020, when the survey was last published, two states — Nebraska and New Mexico — have passed legislation ensuring all students take a personal finance course before graduating from high school. .

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“While we are encouraged by some progress in our latest survey, every young person in the country needs more and deserves better,” said Nan Morrison, President and CEO of the Council for Economic Education.

Uneven progress

There has been a steady momentum in states adding personal finance education in various ways for over two decades. The number of states that include personal finance in their education standards rose to 47 in 2022, from 21 in 1998.

Of course, what’s offered and required in those 47 states varies widely, according to the report. While 27 states offer a personal finance course in high school, only 23 require students to take one to graduate.

And, of these, only nine courses are a stand-alone personal finance course – the rest are embedded in another class.

“The state of financial education offered to students in the United States varies widely,” said Worku Gachou, North America lead, inclusive impact and sustainability, at Visa, which launched today with the Council for economic education FinEd50, a coalition of private and public actors and association leaders who will promote guaranteed access everywhere to these essential courses.

“Where students live should not impact their access to knowledge that will help them learn how to make informed financial decisions in their lives,” Gachou added.

These differences matter because without broader guidelines, students from low-income families and people of color often don’t have the same access to personal finance education, Morrison said.

“If we don’t get the requirements passed, it will only make the loopholes that already exist worse,” Morrison said.

Economics classes late

The report also found that while there has been steady momentum in adding education and personal finance requirements to high school curricula in recent years, guidelines for economics classes have stagnated.

Since 2011, only three states have added a requirement that students take an economics course to graduate.

Although economics sometimes overlaps with personal finance education, both are important fields of study, Morrison said. The study of economics gives students the opportunity to think about and analyze many globally relevant topics such as the environment, housing, and employment.

Personal finance courses, on the other hand, help students learn how to manage their own money and make wise choices, given what is happening in the world.

“In my ideal world, every child would have at least one semester of economics and at least one semester of personal finance to give them a good skill set,” she said.

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