More States Require Finance but Not Economics in School

Florida is the latest to mandate personal finance in high school

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Learning how to manage one’s finances is becoming a more common part of high school curriculum, even as there are signs that traditional economics education is languishing.

With the addition of Florida last week, there are now at least 24 states requiring some form of personal finance education to graduate from high school—up from just seven in 2000 and 21 in 2020—according to the latest survey from the Council for Economic Education (CEE), an advocacy group.

At the same time, growth in the number of states investing in economics classes has stalled, with just 25 requiring it for graduation, CEE data shows. In fact, the number of states testing students in economics has actually dwindled and there are legislative proposals in at least two states, Georgia and South Carolina, that would drop their economics requirement.

While the progress in personal finance is encouraging—the number of states that require a stand-alone class has grown to 10 from six in just the last two years—students also need an economics background to help them use data, think logically and develop problem-solving skills, the CEE said. But finding teachers able to teach economics can be a challenge for certain states, with some educators asserting that personal finance education is enough, according to Christopher Caltabiano, the group’s chief program officer.

“We see them as complementary and having them both gives a student a broad view of how they fit into the world,” Caltabiano said.

State-level requirements are important to avoiding inequities between school districts with varying funding levels, according to the CEE, which conducts a survey every two years and released its latest results before Florida’s law was passed.

The half-credit personal finance course in Florida, where there is already an economics requirement for high schoolers, will provide instruction on financial literacy and money management, focusing on bank accounts, credit scores, and how to manage debt and taxes. Ohio and Nebraska were the other two states that passed personal finance requirements since 2020.

“Ensuring our students have the skills to manage their finances and perhaps one day own a business will pay dividends for our state. I am proud to sign this bill to support the future of Florida’s students and ultimately their families and communities,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said in a statement last Tuesday, when he signed the personal finance education bill.

Have a question, comment, or story to share? You can reach Terry at tlane@thebalance.com.

Article Sources

  1. Council for Economic Education. “Survey of the States.”

  2. Council for Economic Education. “Survey of the States - 2022.”

  3. Florida Governor’s Office. “Governor Ron DeSantis Signs Financial Literacy Bill to Support Florida's Students.”