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Jade Warshaw: Florida's Financial Literacy Bill: What it is, and What it Means for Teachers

JULY 19, 2023

Ah, sunny Florida . . . my home state for the last 15 years, and now my home away from home. There are miles and miles of pristine beaches and so many diverse cultures, cuisines and crafts. It’s a tropical paradise, and it’s my personal happy place. And just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, Florida up and required high school students to take a stand-alone personal finance class before graduating.1 Yes!

Now if you know anything about me, you know I’m not just a former Floridian. You know I eat, sleep and breathe personal finance—with a side of avocado and mango (because that’s how you do it Florida style).

Florida is taking steps to make sure the next generation is prepared for the real world. The thought of students graduating with real-life money skills—like how to budget, save, spend, avoid the trap of debt, and give with intentionality—feels just as good as burying my toes in some sparkling white sand.

Now, let’s talk about what this bill is and what it means for teachers.

What Is the Florida Financial Literacy Bill?

Let’s dive right in. The Florida Senate Bill 1054, also known as the Dorothy L. Hukill Financial Literacy Act, requires high school students in Florida to take a stand-alone personal finance course before graduating. The bill is named after Senator Dorothy Hukill, who spent her career advocating for financial literacy education in Florida schools.

The bill was first introduced in November of 2021. Then, with bipartisan support, it unanimously passed the House and Senate in March of 2022. And finally, on March 22, 2022, Governor Ron DeSantis signed the bill into law, stating, “Financial literacy is an important life skill for a student to have.”2

What Are the Florida Financial Literacy Bill Standards?

Essentially, the Florida financial literacy bill requires students to earn one half credit in a personal finance course that teaches them basic money skills, like budgeting, saving and investing. It also requires that they learn how to file taxes, open bank accounts, understand personal insurance policies, control spending, and much more.3

Think back to when you were in high school. Did you learn how to budget or file your taxes? Most people didn’t. But isn’t it awesome that Florida students will learn these skills before they graduate high school?

When Will the Florida Financial Literacy Bill Go Into Effect?

The Florida financial literacy bill will go into effect at the beginning of the 2023–24 school year, but it won’t affect students currently enrolled. That means the freshman class of 2023 will be the first class to take a half credit in personal finance before they graduate. It also means that by 2027, students all across Florida will graduate high school with the personal finance skills they need to enter the real world with confidence.

Why Is the Florida Financial Literacy Bill Helpful?

Okay, so maybe you’re reading this and wondering, What even is financial literacy? Financial literacy means having the knowledge and skills to make smart decisions with your money. This includes knowing how to do things like budget, save for emergencies, invest for the future, and avoid debt.

And the Florida financial literacy bill is helpful because it’s an important step in solving Florida’s financial literacy gap. The goal behind teaching financial literacy is to help students develop a strong understanding of basic money concepts so they have the skills they need to win with money.

Maybe you’re still asking yourself, Okay, but how important is this really? Fair enough. Let’s look at the facts:

  • 78% of Americans feel like they live paycheck to paycheck. 4  
  • 1 in 4 workers never save any money from month to month. 5
  • 36% of Americans said they wouldn’t be able to cover a $400 emergency. 6  
  • 62% of college graduates in 2019 owed an average of $28,950 in student loans. 7  

If you think those numbers are sad, then get ready for this one. If financial literacy was based on whether you do or don’t live paycheck to paycheck, then only about 20% would be considered financially literate. Now, that’s just plain scary.

But taking a personal finance course before graduating high school makes a difference in how students view money and make financial decisions. In fact, in Ramsey’s Students and Money National Research Study, we asked 76,000 students who took a personal finance course in high school some big money questions, and here’s what we found out: 

  • 23% are less likely to plan to use loans to pay for college.
  • 87% feel confident about their ability to invest for the future.
  • They’re 3 times more likely to say they’d rather have $500 cash in the bank instead of a smartphone.

Yeah, you read that right. Students with a personal finance course under their belt said they’d rather have cash in the bank than a brand-new cell phone—that’s pretty impressive. Imagine if you could say the same for your students. What if they had some money saved up to jump-start their lives after high school? They could have a full emergency fund, a paid-for car, and the cash to get through college debt-free—all by the time they graduate high school. Sounds pretty great, right?

And that’s just one more reason why the Florida financial literacy bill is so important. It’s trying to bridge that financial literacy gap and give students solid money skills that will set them up for financial success now and for the rest of their lives. Because when a student is financially literate, their good habits trickle down to their families, their communities and eventually their state.

Now that’s a trend we can all get behind! The Florida financial literacy bill means that Florida teachers will now have the power to teach their students good money habits early and help them get ahead of the curve—instead of falling behind it.

Think about it: Students love to ask the question, “Am I ever going to use this stuff after I graduate?” And while we know they’ll probably never need to dissect a frog or make a paper-mache volcano in the real world, we can agree one thing’s for sure: They will have to know how to handle their money wisely.

And the sooner they learn, the better!

* Jade Warshaw is a Ramsey Solutions Master Financial Coach and debt elimination expert, who also works closely with Foundations in Personal Finance. After paying off nearly half a million dollars in consumer debt, Jade is teaching others how to achieve financial peace by changing their mindset and actions with money.