Twenty-five states launched private finance training payments this 12 months

Lee Jimenez, a teacher at Indian Hill Elementary School in Cincinnati, Ohio, discusses credit cards and payment methods with his 3rd grade using the SmartPath online finance curriculum.

SMARTPATH

After the coronavirus pandemic, there has been an extra boost this year to promote personal finance education at high schools across the country.

So far in 2021, 25 states have passed laws that would add personal finance education to their high school curriculum, according to Next Gen Personal Finance’s bill tracker.

Laws in Arkansas, Hawaii, and Nebraska were passed and put into effect this year. Bills in four other states – Colorado, Nevada, Rhode Island and Texas – have passed and are awaiting signatures from the governors.

“I haven’t seen that many in the last few years [bills] that mattered and made it onto the governor’s desk, “said Tim Ranzetta, co-founder of Next Gen Personal Finance, a non-profit personal finance education organization.

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Personal financial education in the USA

Seven states – Virginia, Alabama, Tennessee, Missouri, Utah, North Carolina, and Mississippi – have what Next Gen Personal Finance calls the gold standard of personal finance education: a self-contained, half-semester course that focuses only on personal finance. Additionally, about 21 states require personal finance training but say it can be integrated into another course.

If all of the bills proposed this year were passed, Nebraska and Rhode Island would join the gold ranks. Texas’ bill is imminent – it doesn’t require personal finance education to be a stand-alone course.

The effects of the pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic has certainly helped shed light on the importance of personal finance literacy due to its economic impact on the United States

Last year, closings to contain the spread of Covid-19 resulted in millions of Americans losing their jobs or cutting hours and incomes, which put a significant strain on household finances. Even if the U.S. reopens and vaccinations picks up, it could take years for those hardest hit to recover, especially if they were behind with bills and rents during the pandemic.

“It feels like some people are being left behind, and the pandemic has somehow exacerbated some of these structural problems,” Ranzetta said. “And while financial literacy is not the panacea or panacea for these problems, it is an important skill young people can develop.”

This reflects what happened about a decade ago after the financial crisis. The states that were the first to guarantee personal finance courses in high school began their mandates after the Great Recession, Ranzetta said.

What’s next

Of course, the introduction of a bill is only one step towards improving access to personal finance literacy. It can take months or even years for bills introduced into the state legislature to reach the governor for signature. And it is possible that some of the bills presented this year will not get this far if they don’t have the support they need.

In addition, not all bills are the same and, according to Ranzetta, the devil is in the details. In addition to the adoption of the draft law, it is important how it is implemented in the schools and what support the teachers responsible for class management receive.

“The success of the implementation depends on the teacher being highly qualified and competent to teach the course,” he said.

But overall, the increase in the number of laws being introduced is a good sign for the future.

“I don’t want to jinx things, but by all signs there are several states where you will see significant increases in the number of students getting access to financial education,” said Ranzetta.

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