As The Stakes Get Higher, States Beef Up Financial Literacy in High Schools

As the nation’s student loan debt continues to rise, states have increased efforts to educate youth in the areas of personal finance and funding for postsecondary education. According to the National Conference of State Legislators, as of August 2012, twenty-eight states have introduced legislation focused on financial literacy, with many states having already passed financial literacy related legislation in their districts.

In Florida, Miami-Dade County Public Schools is scheduled to launch a financial literacy program at the start of the 2013-14 school year. The program will include an economics unit for seniors, aimed at preparing students to make personal financial decisions and avoid debt. The district’s program is expected to serve about 18,000 seniors each year, and is funded by the Pathway to Financial Success grant from Discover Financial Services. Discover has awarded similar grants to schools in twenty-eight other states.

Texas has led efforts around educating students on ways to fund higher education. Beginning this fall, the state will require its public high schools to teach students about student loans, scholarships, and other funding options. A pilot program at San Antonio Independent School District has a goal of getting every senior to fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), a critical first step in the college funding process.

Utah’s required financial literacy course has been in place since 2008 and is offered to students in their junior or senior year of high school. The half-credit course consists of four financial literacy standards: decision making and goals; income and careers; principles of money management; and savings, investing, and retirement planning.

All of these initiatives are aimed at better preparing students to make wise finance decisions as they enter the workforce and become greater participants in the economy.

Note: This blog post was originally authored under the auspices of the National High School Center at the American Institutes for Research (AIR). The National High School Center’s blog, High School Matters, which ran until March 2013, provided an objective perspective on the latest research, issues, and events that affected high school improvement. The CCRS Center plans to continue relevant work originally developed under the National High School Center grant. National High School Center blog posts that pertain to CCRS Center issues are included on this website as a resource to our stakeholders.

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