Think back to when you were in high school. How would you rate your money smarts? Did you learn basic stuff like how to budget and save? What about taxes and insurance? It’s all enough to make an adult’s head spin—let alone a high school student’s. But imagine (and maybe you don’t have to), entering the adult world with no training, no guidance on all this money stuff, and trying to navigate things like making rent every month, affording groceries, and paying for college. It’s enough to leave you feeling overwhelmed and just plain scared.
So, it’s no surprise states are finally increasing their financial literacy requirements for high school students. Maybe you’ve heard about these changes on the news and are wondering if your kid will have to take a financial literacy class, or maybe you’re a teacher who might have to take over that added requirement. Whatever the reason, you’re here because you’re wondering which states require financial literacy for high school students. Well, let’s dig in and find out!
Which States Require Financial Literacy for High School Students?
Okay, grab your popcorn for this one. Right now, 30 states (and counting) require schools to offer personal finance in high school. But that doesn’t mean all 30 require students to actually take a personal finance course to graduate. Don’t worry we’ve broken it all down for you in the chart below. But before we get there, here’s a quick overview: Only 17 states have made personal finance a graduation requirement.1 But then, some states don’t even require a course, or they just implement personal finance into another course, or some branch off and do their own thing. (We’re looking at you, Rhode Island.)
Here's a quick breakdown of each state and what their requirements are. Check out where your state lands:2
States that require students to take a financial literacy course for high school graduation
States that require a financial literacy course to be offered
Louisiana, North Dakota, South Dakota, West Virginia
States that require a financial literacy course to be offered, but the coursework can also be integrated into other subjects
Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Texas
States that require financial literacy standards to be implemented by districts
Colorado, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin
States that include financial literacy in their K–12 standards
Connecticut, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Vermont, Washington
States that currently have no financial literacy requirements
Alaska, California, Wyoming, Washington D.C.
Now that you’ve seen the breakdown of each state’s financial literacy requirements for high school students, we’ll go on a quick road trip through the states that require a personal finance course for high school graduation. Let’s dig in!
Alabama’s Financial Literacy Requirements for High School Students
We’ll start in the Heart of Dixie. In the 2013–14 school year, Alabama launched its Career Preparedness course as a requirement for high school graduation.3 The course covers everything from college prep to business and industry skills to personal finance. While the course isn’t a stand-alone personal finance course, 44% of the course’s hours are dedicated to personal finance topics, making it almost the equivalent of a half-credit personal finance course.4
Florida’s Financial Literacy Requirements for High School Students
Now for the Sunshine State. In March 2022, Governor Ron DeSantis, signed the Dorothy L. Hukill Financial Literacy Act. This bill requires students to take a half-credit financial literacy course for high school graduation, beginning with freshmen entering high school in the 2023–24 school year.5
Georgia’s Financial Literacy Requirements for High School Students
Moving on to the Deep South where the tea only comes sweet—the great state of Georgia (go Dawgs!). Beginning in the 2024–25 school year, Georgia will require all juniors and seniors to take at least a half-credit financial literacy course to graduate.6 And get this: That credit can count for a math, social studies or other required elective credit.
Iowa’s Financial Literacy Requirements for High School Students
And now for the home of the original Maid-Rite—Iowa. Starting with the graduating class of 2023, Iowa requires students to take a one-half unit financial literacy course to graduate.7
Are you a teacher? Help your students win with money today!
If that year sounds new, it’s because it is. Back in 2019, when Governor Kim Reynolds signed the financial literacy requirement into law, it was supposed to kick off with the graduating class of 2021. But schools needed more time to implement the changes, so House File 420 changed the start date to begin with the graduating class of 2023.8
Kansas’ Financial Literacy Requirements for High School Students
In November 2021, the Kansas State Board of Education approved new graduation requirements, including a half-credit financial literacy course for high school students.9
Currently, students are required to take one unit of PE and six units of electives. This change reduces PE to a half credit and adds a half credit of personal finance. The Kansas State Board of Education is still working to iron out all the details, but the board did approve the graduation requirements to go into effect for the class of 2027.10
Michigan’s Financial Literacy Requirements for High School Students
In the Great Lakes State, on June 16, 2022, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed House Bill 5190. This bill requires students to take a half-credit financial literacy course, beginning with students entering eighth grade in 2023.11
Mississippi’s Financial Literacy Requirements for High School Students
Next up is a state known for its southern charm and bluegrass music—Mississippi! Beginning with the 2022 graduating class, students in Mississippi are required to take the yearlong College and Career Readiness course to graduate. Students will learn everything from developing a plan to pay for college to choosing a career path to setting goals. Financial literacy is also one of the eight units covered in the course, making it the equivalent of a half-credit personal finance course.12
Missouri’s Financial Literacy Requirements for High School Students
All right, now we’re traveling north to the Show-Me State. Missouri is one of the few states that already required a stand-alone, half-credit financial literacy course for high school graduation before all these other states joined the bandwagon. In 2017, the Missouri State Board of Education updated the state’s graduation requirements for high school students and introduced the requirement for the 2019–20 school year.13 Way to go, Missou-ree (or is it Missou-rah?).
Nebraska’s Financial Literacy Requirements for High School Students
Nebraska, you’ve got corn, corn and—oh, look—more corn. But also some personal finance education in the works. Beginning with the 2023–24 school year, Nebraska requires every student who attends a public high school to take at least one five-credit course in financial literacy to graduate.14 Keep on living that good life, Nebraska.
New Hampshire’s Financial Literacy Requirements for High School Students
In June 2022, Governor Chris Sununu signed HB1671, which changed the state’s personal finance requirements to include a stand-alone financial literacy course.The bill went into effect August 23, 2022, and now requires a stand-alone financial literacy course for high school students to graduate, beginning in the 2023–24 school year.15 Before this update, New Hampshire integrated their personal finance requirements into their social studies standards.
North Carolina’s Financial Literacy Requirements for High School Students
In 2019, North Carolina passed House Bill 924, making the full-credit Economics and Personal Finance course a requirement for high school graduation.16 This class focuses on economics, personal finance, financial planning, how to be a wise consumer, and more.17 The bill went into effect for students who entered high school the following year in 2020.
Ohio’s Financial Literacy Requirements for High School Students
All right, now for the only state where you’re guaranteed a response from random strangers by shouting “O-H!” As of July 1, 2022, Ohio requires students to take a one-half unit financial literacy course to graduate.18
Rhode Island’s Financial Literacy Requirements for High School Students
Okay, for all you Rhode Island folks, buckle up. This requirement’s a bit of a bumpy ride. In June 2021, Governor Dan McKee signed RIGL 16-22-13, which requires new personal finance standards for high school graduation.19
Beginning with the graduating class of 2024, this law requires high school students to demonstrate proficiency in financial literacy before graduation.20 Students can do this by taking a financial literacy course aligned with the state’s standards or by passing multiple courses that include the required financial literacy content. The law also states that local education agencies (LEAs) can choose to allow students to do one of the following:
- Pass a financial literacy course aligned with the state’s standards.
- Complete a project aligned with the state’s standards under a teacher’s supervision.
- Pass a financial literacy assessment.
- Complete another demonstration approved by the Council on Elementary and Secondary Education.21
Whew, that was a lot! If you’re from Rhode Island, good luck with that one.
South Carolina’s Financial Literacy Requirements for High School Students
And now, South Carolina! Through an update to South Carolina’s 2022–23 state budget, lawmakers were able to push through regulations to update their high school graduation criteria. This required the South Carolina Department of Education to update the high school graduation requirements to include a half-credit personal finance course within the existing credits.22
Tennessee’s Financial literacy Requirements for High School Students
The Volunteer State has had its personal finance graduation requirement in the books for a while now. Beginning with the graduating class of 2013, Tennessee has required all students to take a half-credit financial literacy course to graduate.23 And that requirement is still going strong today!
Utah’s Financial Literacy Requirements for High School Students
Next up is Utah, the first state to ever require a financial literacy course for high school graduation. Way to go, Beehive State! So, here’s the scoop: Back in 2003, Senate Bill 154 was signed into law, which requires a one-semester financial literacy course for graduation. The next year, the Utah State Board of Education approved a one-semester class called General Financial Literacy (GFL) and implemented it with the 2008 graduating class. Currently, Utah requires every high schooler to take a half-credit GFL class to graduate.24
Virginia’s Financial Literacy Requirements for High School Students
And last but not least is Virginia. The Old Dominion State has also had its personal finance education requirement in the books for a while now. In 2009, the Virginia Board of Education updated graduation requirements to include a stand-alone, full-credit course in economics and personal finance. The new requirement went into effect with students who entered ninth grade in 2011.25
Why Is Financial Literacy for High School Students Important?
Personal experience can be a great (but expensive) teacher—especially when it comes to money. But when students take a financial literacy course in high school, they learn principles that’ll set them up for success in the real world and help them establish good money habits early on.
When students take a personal finance course in high school, they’re more likely to use the money principles they learned in their everyday lives. In our Students and Money National Research Study, we asked 76,000 high school students who’ve taken a personal finance course how that class changed the way they handle their money. Here’s what we found out:
- Nearly 8 in 10 create a monthly budget for their money.
- 20% paid for their car by themselves.
- Nearly 80% have their own bank accounts.
And those bank accounts aren’t just sitting around waiting for that next round of birthday cash. Two-thirds of high schoolers said they’re earning money and bringing in an average monthly income of $243, or $3,000 per year. Now that’s the power of personal finance education!
How You Can Help Provide Financial Literacy for High School Students
Well, there you have it. Now you know which states require financial literacy for high school students. But what does all this mean for you?
If you’re a teacher, you can make sure your students learn how to handle their money the right way with the Foundations in Personal Finance curriculum. It’s designed to equip teachers like you (no matter what subject you teach) with everything you need. And Foundations meets financial literacy standards in all 50 states as well as national standards for personal finance.
So, no matter what state you live in, you can equip students with the money skills they’ll need now and for the rest of their lives. And that’s a cause we can all get behind.
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