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Financial Education in Schools

High school students learn about personal financeMany students never get a meaningful financial education before graduating from high school. Schools might offer elective workshops or clubs to interested students, but only 25 states actually require personal finance classes in order to graduate.

If students aren’t taught financial concepts at school, they are forced to learn in the real world, often by making costly mistakes. For those lucky enough to have it, topics commonly covered in school personal finance programs include:

  • Interest rates and loans — Getting the best rates on car loans, mortgages and student loans; calculating the short-term and long-term costs of various borrowing options.
  • Wages and earnings — Understanding payroll taxes and deductions; how income affects overall financial health.
  • Checking and savings accounts — How inflation impacts savings; how to choose accounts for various goals.
  • Basic investing — Retirement investing in a 401(k); how the stock market works.
  • How to build good credit — The effects of credit scores on loan options; how to check and monitor one’s credit report.

If your kids aren’t learning these concepts at school, are you teaching them at home? One way or another, every young person who wants to achieve financial independence must learn the basic rules of personal finance to maximize opportunities and limit losses due to interest, penalties, fees, scams and uninformed decisions. (Ready to jumpstart the money talk? Try the Financial Identity Quiz and the related activities.)

Fin Ed in Schools Leads to Better Borrowing

A recent study funded by the National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE) found that students in states where financial education is required in high school make better decisions about how to pay for college. These students take on less credit card debt and lower amounts of private loans, and they borrow more federal student loans, which have lower interest rates and more forgiving repayment plans.

Investigate Your State Requirements

If you discover there is no personal finance curriculum at your children’s school, here are some steps you can take to investigate further.

  • Search for your state and “financial education mandate” or “financial education required to graduate” to see what is required in your state.
  • Reach out to teachers and school administrators to find out where, how and when personal finance topics are planned in the curriculum.
  • Check with the school district to find out if there are personal finance programs offered that you’re not aware of.
  • Talk to other parents if you feel strongly that personal finance should be part of the regular curriculum.
  • Research options outside the classroom (e.g., Scouts, church groups, community workshops).

You might not have much control over how much financial education is taught at your local schools, but you can find free resources online to supplement money lessons at home. And, if your child’s school is looking for a trustworthy personal finance curriculum, check out NEFE’s High School Financial Planning Program (HSFPP) — a free, unbiased classroom program intended for students age 13 to 18. Learn more at

[Any reference to a specific company, commercial product, process or service does not constitute or imply an endorsement or recommendation by the National Endowment for Financial Education.]

Ver este artículo en espanol: Educación financiera en los centros de enseñanza