A passing grade? The effort that states put into teaching high school students about personal finance.
The Center for Financial Literacy at Champlain College
July 12, 2013

The Center for Financial Literacy at Champlain College has graded all 50 states on their efforts to teach the ABCs of financial literacy to high school students.

The assessments are based primarily on published reports covering state-by-state measures, along with reviews of state legislation going back more than a decade. (For an expanded version of this report card, visit the financial literacy center’s website.)

Should you find your state’s grade disappointing, the center’s director, John Pelletier, suggests you start by raising the issue with your local high school principal or school board. On the state level, he says, you should contact your local state representative or senator.

To help make your case, Pelletier recommends the resources available at jumpstart.org. “Given that our nation has suffered greatly in recent years from financial illiteracy,” he says, “elected officials should listen closely.”

State Ranking: Alabama – Hawaii

Alabama: F

  • Personal-finance topics are included in the state’s educational guidelines, but the state does not require that local school districts teach these topics.
  • No personal-finance requirement, although personal finance may be taught at certain schools as an elective.
  • In 2010, Alabama passed a law urging the department of education to incorporate personal finance into the curriculum for high schools seniors.

Alaska: F

  • Does not include personal-finance topics in the state’s educational standards.
  • No personal-finance requirement, although personal finance may be taught at certain schools as an elective.

Arizona: B

  • Requires personal-finance instruction be incorporated into other subject matter.
  • Includes personal-finance topics in the state’s K-12 instructional guidelines and requires local school districts to implement these standards.
  • Requires an economics course that includes personal-finance concepts beginning with the class of 2012.

Arkansas: F

  • Personal-finance topics are included in the state’s educational guidelines, but the state does not require that local school districts teach these topics.
  • No personal-finance requirement, although personal finance may be taught at certain schools as an elective.
  • In 2002, Arkansas passed a law that provides assistance to school districts that want to offer personal finance in high schools.

California: F

  • Does not include personal-finance topics in the state’s educational standards.
  • No personal-finance requirement, although personal finance may be taught at certain schools as an elective.
  • In 2004 the state legislature declared April financial literacy month. Six financial-literacy bills were vetoed by the governor from 2006 through 2010. In 2011 a fund was established that would accept private donations that could be used to promote financial literacy in California.

Colorado: B

  • Includes personal-finance topics in the state’s K-12 instructional guidelines and requires local school districts to implement these standards.
  • Requires personal-finance instruction to be incorporated into other subject matter.
  • Colorado requires financial literacy topics to be included in the model content standards for mathematics. Requires certain personal-finance topics be tested as part of a math assessment tests given to all students.
  • In 2005, Colorado also required the department of education to create and maintain a resource bank of material pertaining to financial literacy and to provide technical assistance to schools in the design of a financial-literacy curriculum. All schools were strongly encouraged to make the completion of a financial-literacy course a graduation requirement.

Connecticut: F

  • Personal-finance topics are included in the state’s educational guidelines, but the state does not require that local school districts teach these topics.
  • No personal-finance requirement, although personal finance may be taught at certain schools as an elective.
  • Since 2007, Connecticut legislators have introduced seven bills in an attempt to bring financial literacy into their schools. All attempts have failed. In 2009 the state passed a law allowing banks to open branches in schools to help students learn about saving money.

Delaware: F

  • Personal-finance topics are included in the state’s educational guidelines, but the state does not require that local school districts teach these topics.
  • No personal-finance requirement, although personal finance may be taught at certain schools as an elective.
  • In 2008 the Delaware legislature passed a resolution making April financial literacy month. In 14 years only one bill was introduced to require personal-finance education in the school system.

Florida: D

  • Includes personal-finance topics in the state’s K-12 instructional guidelines and requires local school districts to implement these standards.
  • No personal-finance requirement, although personal finance may be taught at certain schools as an elective.
  • A financial-literacy council has been created to make recommendations on how to increase the personal-finance knowledge of the state’s citizens.

Georgia: A

  • Includes personal-finance topics in the state’s K-12 instructional guidelines, requires local school districts to implement these standards, requires financial-literacy instruction as a high school graduation requirement, and requires that students be given assessment tests on financial-literacy topics.
  • Requires personal-finance instruction to be incorporated into other subject matter.

Related: 5 champions of financial education

  • Personal-finance education is provided within the “Let’s Make It Personal” social studies economics content standards and is required as a high school graduation requirement.

Hawaii: F

  • Personal-finance topics are included in the state’s educational guidelines, but the state does not require that local school districts teach these topics.
  • No personal-finance requirement, although personal finance may be taught at certain schools as an elective.
  • The legislature in Hawaii created a Financial Literacy Education and Asset Building Task Force that made a variety of recommendations in 2010.

Continued: State Ranking: Idaho – Louisiana

State Ranking: Idaho – Louisiana

Idaho: A

  • Includes personal-finance topics in the state’s K-12 instructional guidelines, requires local school districts to implement these standards, requires financial literacy instruction as a high school graduation requirement, and requires students be given assessment tests on financial literacy topics.
  • Requires personal-finance instruction to be incorporated into other subject matter.
  • Personal-finance education provided within social studies economics content standards and is required for high school graduation.

Illinois: B

  • Requires personal-finance instruction to be incorporated into other subject matter.
  • Includes personal-finance topics in the state’s K-12 instructional guidelines, requires local school districts to implement these standards, and requires financial literacy instruction as a high school graduation requirement.
  • Personal-finance topics must be covered in the consumer education course that is required to be taken by all high school students.
  • In 2006 the state created a financial literacy fund run by the treasurer for the promotion of personal finance in the state’s school system.

Indiana: C

  • Includes personal-finance topics in the state’s K-12 instructional guidelines and requires local school districts to implement these standards.
  • Requires personal-finance instruction to be incorporated into other subject matter.
  • Indiana requires that personal finance be taught in grades 6-12 and has clearly defined standards for grades 8 and 12 based on the JumpStart Coalition’s highly regarded National Standards in K-12 Personal Financial Education. However, it is left to the local school districts to determine how and where to integrate these topics into the classroom.

Iowa: C

  • Includes personal-finance topics in the state’s K-12 instructional guidelines and requires local school districts to implement these standards.
  • No personal-finance requirement, although personal finance may be taught at certain schools as an elective.
  • Iowa passed a bill in 2008 requiring all K-12 students to receive 21st Century Life skills such as civic, financial, health, and technology literacy and employability skills. The state also has clearly defined key competencies at different grade levels. However, it is left to the local districts to determine how and where to integrate these topics into the classroom. Iowa also created a financial literacy program for its citizens within the state’s treasurer’s office in 2010.

Kansas: B

  • Includes personal-finance topics in the state’s K-12 instructional guidelines.
  • Requires personal-finance instruction to be incorporated into other subject matter.
  • Kansas requires financial literacy topics to be included in the model content standards for mathematics, and requires certain personal-finance topics be tested as part of a math assessment tests given to all students.

Related: High school gives 16-year-olds $100,000 to invest

  • In 2003 Kansas directed the Board of Education to develop curriculum, materials, and guidelines for local school boards to use in implementing a program on personal-financial literacy.

Kentucky: C

  • Includes personal-finance topics in the state’s K-12 instructional guidelines and requires local school districts to implement these standards.
  • Requires personal-finance instruction to be incorporated into other subject matter.
  • Financial literacy is incorporated in the Practical Living/ Vocational Studies program, beginning at the primary level and continuing all the way through high school.
  • Kentucky created a legislative committee on education to review economic education in the state’s public schools. It was tasked with making recommendations to enhance economics and consumer education.

Louisiana: A

  • Includes personal-finance topics in the state’s K-12 instructional guidelines, requires local school districts to implement these standards, requires financial literacy instruction as a high school graduation requirement, and requires students be given assessment tests on financial literacy topics.
  • Requires personal-finance instruction to be incorporated into other subject matter.
  • Personal-finance education is provided within a Free Enterprise course that is required for high school graduation.
  • Louisiana created a Financial Literacy and Education Commission to promote personal-finance education in the state and make recommendations.

Continued: State Ranking: Maine – Montana

State Ranking: Maine – Montana

Maine: B

  • Includes personal-finance topics in the state’s K-12 instructional guidelines and requires local school districts to implement these standards.
  • No personal-finance requirement, although personal finance may be taught at certain schools as an elective.

Related: 3 skills to teach your teen about money

  • Maine passed a law in 2007 that required the state treasurer to create a seminar to train teachers on how to bring personal finance into their K-12 classrooms and required the seminar to count toward a teacher’s continuing education requirement. Maine also required the education commissioner to develop a program of technical assistance to promote financial literacy in secondary schools as part of required social studies and mathematics courses and to provide a report each year to local school boards and superintendents on the resources available to bring personal finance into the classroom.
  • Maine tapped into its unclaimed property fund to help fund state financial literacy initiatives.

Maryland: D

  • Includes personal-finance topics in the state’s K-12 instructional guidelines and requires local school districts to implement these standards.
  • No personal-finance requirement, although personal finance may be taught at certain schools as an elective.
  • Maryland’s legislature passed a resolution urging local school boards to incorporate personal finance into the curriculum and to make it a graduation requirement. Maryland also created a task force in 2008 to study how to improve financial literacy in the state. In 2009 the state passed a law that implements financial literacy as an elective course as part of a pilot program at three high schools within Prince George’s County.

Massachusetts: F

  • Personal-finance topics are included in the state’s educational guidelines, but the state does not require that local school districts teach these topics.
  • No personal-finance requirement, although personal finance may be taught at certain schools as an elective.
  • In Massachusetts more than 20 bills were introduced in the legislature since 2005 to require financial literacy be taught in the schools, with no success.

Michigan: D

  • Includes personal-finance topics in the state’s K-12 instructional guidelines and requires local school districts to implement these standards.
  • No personal-finance requirement, although personal finance may be taught at certain schools as an elective.
  • Michigan passed a law in 2002 requiring the Department of Education to develop a model financial literacy program that can be integrated into the K-12 curriculum. Michigan’s legislature also passed resolutions eight times recognizing April as financial literacy month.

Minnesota: D

  • Includes personal-finance topics in the state’s K-12 instructional guidelines and requires local school districts to implement these standards.
  • No personal-finance requirement, although personal finance may be taught at certain schools as an elective.
  • Minnesota created a Ladder Out of Poverty Task Force, which was tasked with providing financial literacy information to low-income families.

Mississippi: C

  • Includes personal-finance topics in the state’s K-12 instructional guidelines, requires local school districts to implement these standards, and requires a personal-finance course to be offered as an elective in high schools, but does not require that students take the course.
  • No personal-finance requirement, although personal finance may be taught at certain schools as an elective.

Missouri: A

  • Requires high school students take at least a one-semester course devoted to personal finance.
  • Includes personal-finance topics in the state’s K-12 instructional guidelines, requires local school districts to implement these standards, and requires financial literacy instruction as a high school graduation requirement.

Montana: D

  • Includes personal-finance topics in the state’s K-12 instructional guidelines and requires local school districts to implement these standards.
  • No personal-finance requirement, although personal finance may be taught at certain schools as an elective.

Continued: State Ranking: Nebraska – Oregon

State Ranking: Nebraska – Oregon

Nebraska: F

  • Personal-finance topics are included in the state’s educational guidelines, but the state does not require that local school districts teach these topics.
  • No personal-finance requirement, although personal finance may be taught at certain schools as an elective.
  • In 2012, Nebraska created a financial literacy fund, administered by the University of Nebraska, to provide assistance to nonprofit entities that offer financial literacy programs to K-12 students.

Nevada: C

  • Includes personal-finance topics in the state’s K-12 instructional guidelines and requires local school districts to implement these standards.
  • Requires personal-finance instruction to be incorporated into other subject matter.
  • In 2009 the Nevada legislature required public high schools, including charter schools, to provide instruction in financial literacy to all students. However, it is left to the local school districts to determine how and where to integrate these topics into the classroom.

New Hampshire: B

  • Requires personal-finance instruction to be incorporated into other subject matter.
  • Includes personal-finance topics in the state’s K-12 instructional guidelines and requires local school districts to implement these standards.
  • New Hampshire requires high school students to take an economics course that includes personal-finance topics.

New Jersey: B

  • Requires personal-finance instruction to be incorporated into other subject matter.
  • Includes personal-finance topics in the state’s K-12 instructional guidelines, requires local school districts to implement these standards, and requires financial literacy instruction as a high school graduation requirement.
  • New Jersey requires students to take a course covering financial, economic, business, and entrepreneurial literacy.
  • Prior to having a graduation requirement, New Jersey established a three-year pilot program at certain school districts to test the efficacy of a financial literacy course.
  • New Jersey passed a law in 2011 that authorized credit unions to take deposits from the state. In exchange for the ability to be the state’s bankers, the credit unions that accepted these funds were required to spend money on financial literacy education based on a very specific formula tied to the assets deposited by the state at their institution.

New Mexico: C

  • Does not include personal-finance topics in the state’s educational standards.
  • No personal-finance requirement, although personal finance may be taught at certain schools as an elective.
  • A 2007 law requires a personal-finance elective course to be offered in high schools but does not require that students take the course.
  • New Mexico also allows a financial literacy course to be counted as one of the four math units required for high school graduation.

New York: B

  • Requires personal-finance instruction to be incorporated into other subject matter.
  • Includes personal-finance topics in the state’s K-12 instructional guidelines, requires local school districts to implement these standards, and requires financial literacy instruction as a high school graduation requirement.
  • New York incorporates personal-finance topics into a required high school course that also covers economics and free enterprise topics.

North Carolina: B

  • Requires personal-finance instruction to be incorporated into other subject matter.
  • Includes personal-finance topics in the state’s K-12 instructional guidelines, requires local school districts to implement these standards, and requires financial literacy instruction as a high school graduation requirement.
  • North Carolina incorporates personal-finance topics into its required high school course on civics and economics.
  • North Carolina created a financial literacy fund to support personal-finance education efforts in its schools and also created a financial literacy council tasked with coordinating and expanding the state’s delivery of financial education for all of its citizens.

North Dakota: D

  • Includes personal-finance topics in the state’s K-12 instructional guidelines and requires local school districts to implement these standards.
  • No personal-finance requirement, although personal finance may be taught at certain schools as an elective.
  • North Dakota’s lower house of the legislature passed a resolution urging school districts to offer a course in financial literacy. The state also passed a law requiring the state treasurer to promote financial literacy education.

Ohio: B

  • Requires personal-finance instruction to be incorporated into other subject matter.
  • Includes personal-finance topics in the state’s K-12 instructional guidelines.
  • Beginning with the class of 2012, Ohio requires high schools to integrate financial literacy and economics within social studies classes, or another class.
  • Ohio created a financial literacy fund to support adult financial education.

Oklahoma: C

  • Includes personal-finance topics in the state’s K-12 instructional guidelines and requires local school districts to implement these standards.
  • Requires personal-finance instruction to be incorporated into other subject matter.
  • Oklahoma passed a law in 2007 requiring that students be taught personal finance as a graduation requirement. It is not indicated in what courses it should be taught, but the board of education notes that 14 specific topics must be taught to students. School districts have available a Math of Finance curriculum outline that can be used to meet this requirement.

Oregon: D

  • Includes personal-finance topics in the state’s K-12 instructional guidelines and requires local school districts to implement these standards.
  • No personal-finance requirement, although personal finance may be taught at certain schools as an elective.
  • Oregon in 2007 created a Task Force on Civics and Financial Education to make recommendations on how to improve K-12 personal finance. The report notes that in 1997 the requirement for a standalone personal-finance course was removed by the legislature.

Continued: State Ranking: Pennsylvania – Wyoming

State Ranking: Pennsylvania – Wyoming

Pennsylvania: D

  • Includes personal-finance topics in the state’s K-12 instructional guidelines and requires local school districts to implement these standards.
  • No personal-finance requirement, although personal finance may be taught at certain schools as an elective.
  • Pennsylvania passed a law in 2010 requiring the Department of Education (DOE) to disseminate economic education and personal-financial literacy curriculum materials to public and private schools and to develop a clearinghouse of these resources on its web site. A separate fund was created to support the implementation of this program. The legislation required the DOE to recognize schools that implement exemplary economic and personal financial literacy programs. The law also created a task force on economic education and personal financial literacy education to make recommendations on how to enhance personal-finance education in the state.

Rhode Island: F

  • Does not include personal-finance topics in the state’s educational standards.
  • No personal-finance requirement, although personal finance may be taught at certain schools as an elective.
  • Rhode Island’s legislature created a special legislative commission on personal finance and requested the department of education to create a task force on youth financial literacy.

South Carolina: B

  • Requires personal-finance instruction to be incorporated into other subject matter.
  • Includes personal-finance topics in the state’s K-12 instructional guidelines and requires local school districts to implement these standards.
  • South Carolina provides personal-finance education to be provided within a social studies/economics class that is required for high school graduation.
  • The state created a fund that could receive public and private contributions for financial literacy instruction.

South Dakota: B

  • Requires personal-finance instruction to be incorporated into other subject matter.
  • Includes personal-finance topics in the state’s K–12 instructional guidelines, requires local school districts to implement these standards, and requires financial literacy instruction as a high school graduation requirement.
  • South Dakota requires an economics or personal-finance course as a high school graduation requirement.

Tennessee: A

  • Includes personal-finance topics in the state’s K-12 instructional guidelines, requires local school districts to implement these standards, requires financial literacy instruction as a high school graduation requirement, and requires students be given assessment tests on financial literacy topics.
  • Requires high school students take at least a one-semester course devoted to personal finance.
  • Tennessee created a Financial Literacy Commission to promote personal-finance education in the state and make recommendations.

Texas: B

  • Requires personal-finance instruction to be incorporated into other subject matter.
  • Includes personal-finance topics in the state’s K-12 instructional guidelines and requires local school districts to implement these standards.
  • Texas requires personal-finance topics be covered within its high school graduation economics requirement.
  • Texas has passed laws (1) creating a financial literacy pilot program for up to 100 school districts and requiring a report be given to the legislature on the efficacy of this program; (2) requiring that mathematics courses include personal-finance topics in grades K-8; (3) requiring that high school students be trained on how they can pay for college; and (4) requiring that the states’ collegiate institutions that graduate K-12 educators be required to offer a personal-finance course.
  • Texas has assessed an annual fee on certain individuals and companies licensed by the state that participate in the financial services industry. Such fees are used to help finance certain financial literacy education initiatives.

Utah: A

  • Requires high school students take at least a one-semester course devoted to personal finance.
  • Includes personal-finance topics in the state’s K-12 instructional guidelines, requires local school districts to implement these standards, and requires financial literacy instruction as a high school graduation requirement.
  • Utah requires public schools to give information to kindergarten students about the state’s financial literacy education requirements and information on how to open a Utah Educational Savings Plan account. Utah also allows students to test out of the high school financial literacy course requirement.

Vermont: D

  • Includes personal finance topics in the state’s K-12 instructional guidelines and requires local school districts to implement these standards.
  • No personal finance requirement, although personal finance may be taught at certain schools as an elective.
  • Vermont in 2008 created the Financial Literacy Trust Fund. The Treasurer’s office is authorized to accept funding from a variety of sources to support financial literacy activities. Vermont also has a fund maintained by the state’s Department of Financial Regulation (DFR), that is funded by certain DFR operations. In 2010 the legislature changed how this fund is administered by the DFR. The funds used to be exclusively for investment education but under the new law may be used to support the broader category of financial services education.

Virginia: A

  • Requires high school students take at least a one-semester course devoted to personal finance.
  • Includes personal-finance topics in the state’s K-12 instructional guidelines, requires local school districts to implement these standards, and requires financial literacy instruction as a high school graduation requirement.
  • Virginia requires all public colleges and universities in the state to make available financial literacy training for undergraduate students.

Washington: F

  • Personal-finance topics are included in the state’s educational guidelines, but the state does not require that local school districts teach these topics.
  • No personal-finance requirement, although personal finance may be taught at certain schools as an elective.
  • Washington’s legislature created a Financial Literacy Public-Private Partnership in 2004 with the goal of promoting personal-finance education in the state’s schools. Later, the legislature changed the name of the group and put term limits on the partnership’s membership. In 2007 a law was passed expanding the duties of the state’s director of financial regulation to include bringing personal-finance education to all of the citizens in the state.

West Virginia: B

  • Requires personal-finance instruction to be incorporated into other subject matter.
  • Includes personal-finance topics in the state’s K-12 instructional guidelines, requires local school districts to implement these standards, and requires financial literacy instruction as a high school graduation requirement.
  • In West Virginia, personal-finance education is provided within a required social studies and economics high school course called Civics for the 21st Century.
  • West Virginia created a Consumer Education Fund to promote financial literacy in the state. Ten percent of all civil penalties collected by the state’s Division of Banking go into that fund.

Wisconsin: C

  • Includes personal-finance topics in the state’s K-12 instructional guidelines and requires local school districts to implement these standards.
  • No personal-finance requirement, although personal finance may be taught at certain schools as an elective.
  • Wisconsin created an Office of Financial Literacy in 2000. In 2010 the Governor’s Council on Financial Literacy was created by executive order. This group has given individuals and corporations awards for their financial literacy education activities and the Council also awards grant dollars. The Council notes that 75% of Wisconsin school districts do not have a one-semester financial literacy requirement. For 10 years the National Institute on Financial & Economic Literacy has provided teacher training to more than 700 teachers and has an online teacher training program. Wisconsin also created its nationally recognized Model Academic Standards for Personal Financial Literacy. These standards were created for local school districts to use when implementing financial literacy curriculum into their classrooms.

Wyoming: D

  • Includes personal-finance topics in the state’s K-12 instructional guidelines and requires local school districts to implement these standards.
  • No personal-finance requirement, although personal finance may be taught at certain schools as an elective.
  • Wyoming’s legislature passed a resolution in 2005 recognizing the value of personal-finance education to the citizens of its state.

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