There are two things I hear consistently from Family Finance Moms on a daily basis:
- I wish I had learned this when I was in school.
- How do I make sure my kids learn what I didn’t about finance?
The way to address both of these is simple. Personal finance classes in every high school in America. But as with so many things when it comes to education, while the answer is simple, making it happen is far from it. Meet Next Gen Personal Finance: the nonprofit that is breaking down the barriers to make it possible, for free, one teacher and high school at a time, with the goal of every student graduating with a personal finance class in high school by 2030.
We all Wish We Had Personal Finance Classes in High School
If I had a dollar for every follower who told me they wished they had learned about the personal finance topics we talk about here in high school…
Do you wonder how your life choices – from which college you chose, to how you pay for college, and maybe even the career path you chose – may have been impacted if you knew more about personal finance in high school, BEFORE you made those life-determining choices? Would you still have signed up for all the student loan debt you graduated with? How might you have financially prepared for college differently? Maybe you would have chosen a different career path entirely.
I imagine none of you would be here if you didn’t already believe in the power of financial literacy and know from your own lived experience that access to financial literacy is far from equal. Personal finance classes in high school, nationwide, could change that! But in case you need some convincing or want to arm yourself with facts to be an advocate in your community to make it happen, here’s what you should know about how kids learn (or don’t learn) about personal finance today.
Why We Need Personal Finance Classes in High School
Like many of us, most kids aren’t learning about money from their parents at home.
- According to a 2017 T. Rowe Price Survey, 1 in 5 parents reported NEVER talking to their kids about money, and 77% reported talking about it less than once a week.
- 69% of parents report some reluctance in talking to their kids about financial matters, with those in debt or having previously declared bankruptcy, more likely to be reluctant.
- Parents are more comfortable talking about sex, drugs and death with their kids, than they are talking about family finances.
- Boys are 1.6x more likely to ask their parents about money than girls. And because parents often don’t talk about it unless kids ask questions about money, parents report spending more time talking to boys about money than girls.
How Personal Finance Classes in High School Improve Students’ Financial Outcomes
We have to reach kids in high school, and early in high school too. Why? I probably don’t have to tell many of you this, but the decisions you make about college, often determine the rest of your financial future. And even for students who do not pursue college, high school is just before most students transition to adulthood: living on their own, working and generating significant income for themselves, and needing to budget and pay their own bills.
So does teaching personal finance classes in high school actually create positive results? Research by Carly Urban, PhD, at Montana State University finds personal finance classes in high school improve outcomes for students in terms of knowledge, credit, and debt. Previous studies by Urban found personal finance graduation requirements increase credit scores and decrease severe debt delinquencies for 18-22 year olds, as well as reduces non-student debt and improves repayment for those under 30.
In her most recent study, Urban’s study results point to an improvement in how students finance their college education, with a shift from higher-cost borrowing to lower-cost borrowing for four-year college students exposed to financial education, with students more likely to apply for financial aid, while also reducing private loan and credit card balances.
To see first hand how personal finance classes in high school are changing not only student lives, but entire families and communities, check out this video – The Most Important Class You Never Had.
What are the Stats on Personal Finance Classes in High School Today
Next Gen Personal Finance has made its mission guaranteeing every student will take a standalone personal finance course prior to high school graduation by 2030. Where do we currently stand on that mission?
- Today, 1 in 5 students are guaranteed to take a standalone personal finance class prior to graduation
- That number drops to 1 in 9 in states where it is not mandated by state policy
- Currently, just 7 states have or are implementing state policies requiring a personal finance class for all high school students. Those states are Utah, Missouri, Tennessee, Virginia, and Alabama, while Mississippi and North Carolina are currently implementing policies.
- As with so many elements of financial inequality, access to personal finance classes in high school is inequal as well
- In schools with 75%+ Black and Brown student population, only 1 in 14 were guaranteed a standalone personal finance class prior to graduation
- In schools with 75%+ Free and Reduced Lunch eligibility, only 1 in 13 were guaranteed access
To see how access varies by state, or what the data is in your state, check out NGPF’s 2021 State of Financial Education Report here.
About Next Gen Personal Finance
Next Gen Personal Finance was founded in 2014 by Tim Renzatta and Jessica Endlich Winkler. NGPF is a nonprofit, providing FREE curriculum, as well as free personal development (to teach teachers how to teach personal finance), and advocacy resources (to get personal finance classes in high schools across America). There’s no catch – it costs schools, teachers and students nothing, thanks to an endowment that allows NGPF to provide everything your school needs to get personal finance classes in high school (and middle school), eliminating any barriers or objections that may stand in your way. As of 2020, NGPF had reached 43,000 middle and high school teachers, teaching more than 2 million students.
And not only that – NGPF will award grants of $10,000 for every high school that guarantees every student will take a personal finance course before graduation, and grants of $1,000 for up to 1,000 high schools that mplement personal finance electives for the first time in the 2021-2022 school year or later.
Whether you are a teacher or a parent, NGPF’s advocacy tools can help you find the status of personal finance classes in your district, and even provide templates to present to your local Board of Education to make it happen in your kids’ schools, if it’s not happening already. Anyone can also access their FREE games in the NGPF Arcade to give your kids (and YOU) hands on learning through play experience with money in all sorts of scenarios, from investing and paying for college, to insurance and budgeting. Use them to start the conversation in your home!
To learn more about NGPF and it’s mission directly from Co-Founder Tim Renzatta, check out the Finance Explained podcast interview here.