More States Require Students to Learn About Money Matters

A growing number of states are requiring students to study money matters in high school, the Council for Economic Education found, reflecting a broader realization that “people are responsible for their own financial future,” the head of the group said.

High school students in 21 states must now take a personal finance course in order to graduate, the nonprofit council reported this week, a net gain of four states since its last study two years ago.

Five states — Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, Ohio and South Carolina — added the prerequisite. One state, Florida, dropped its requirement.

Nan J. Morrison, the council’s president and chief executive, said she was heartened by the overall findings. The council promotes economic and personal finance education in kindergarten through high school. Personal finance classes typically cover topics like budgeting, saving, credit scores, the cost of borrowing, interest rates and paying for college.

Growing interest in financial education, Ms. Morrison said, is driven by concern about student debt, as well as the rise of the gig economy and the shift from employer-provided pensions to market-based retirement accounts.

Recent research suggests that financial literacy is lacking among United States high school students. One in five American 15-year-olds doesn’t understand basic financial concepts, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

More must be done to improve access to financial education for lower-income students, the council’s report said. It cites research by Next Gen Personal Finance, a nonprofit group that develops courses and funds training for high school teachers, that analyzed course catalogs from 11,000 high schools. The research found that in states without

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