High school student Olivia Raymond takes a personal finance class in her middle school class in West Orange, New Jersey, in February 2020.
According to several state governors, financial education should continue beyond the traditional school years.
“We believe it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy told CNBC’s Sharon Epperson at the Invest in You: The Governors Strategy Session on Financial Education event.
Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak agrees on the importance of financial literacy.
“It’s a skill you need throughout your life,” he said. “We have to start there in the longer term. »
State of personal finance education
There are no federal guidelines for personal finance education in schools, meaning it’s up to each state to set its own rules. And there are 23 states that require a personal finance course for students, according to the Economic Education Council’s 2022 state survey.
In New Jersey, personal finance education is taught in college, and courses in finance, business, and entrepreneurship are required for graduation.
“You have to reach people while they’re young, and that’s the driving reason behind incorporating financial literacy into our curriculum,” said Murphy, a Democrat.
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Nevada students learn personal finance subjects through a social studies course, which typically begins in third grade and continues through high school. Beginning this year in Mississippi, high school graduation requires a college and career preparation course that includes personal finance education.
“Each state must make its own decision and priorities about which classes are best for its young people,” said Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves, a Republican. “But I firmly believe that a basic understanding of finance is extremely important for success in life. »
It also means that states can change their policies at their own discretion.
“Compulsory education may be the next step we’re headed toward,” said Sisolak, a Democrat. He added that having such a program in schools is important as many students cannot get financial literacy at home from their parents, who may also lack financial literacy.
State governors agree that one of the reasons it’s important to have a personal finance curriculum in schools is because many students’ parents can’t teach them financial literacy at home, or simply don’t have enough money to speak.
New Jersey also offers residents access to a more personal financial education outside of school. Murphy announced today at the CNBC event that the state has launched NJ Fin Lit, a financial wellness platform.
“Financial literacy is extremely important for Americans to ensure their personal financial footing, to be better positioned to support their families, and to prepare for future success,” Murphy said.
The platform was developed by Enrich and is operated by San Diego-based financial education company iGrad. It includes personal finance courses on various topics including budgeting, saving, retirement, student loans, and also has real-time budgeting tools. It is free to all adult New Jersey residents.
States have also ensured that educators have professional development resources to keep up with the ever-changing financial environment and answer questions on topics like meme stocks and cryptocurrencies.
Mississippi offers a Masters Instructor Personal Finance Programs and Coaching.
“The best way for a child to get a quality education is with a good teacher,” Reeves said. “You have to keep learning to become a finance teacher, just like you do for English, math or any other subject. »
Of course, every state has areas where it could improve its offering of personal finance education for students, teacher training, and resources for adult voters. And every federal state will probably find individual solutions and offers for its residents in the future.
Many states are moving forward with legislation making personal finance education mandatory for their students. According to Next Gen Personal Finance’s Bill Tracker, there are currently 54 personal finance bills pending in 26 states.