May 26, 2020

Question of the Day [Updated]: What percent of U.S. high school students are required to take a personal finance course to graduate?

Answer: 18.4%


  • Is a personal finance course a graduation requirement in your high school?
  • Do you think that personal finance should be a required course? Explain your answer.
  • What do you think are the 3-4 main topics that should be covered in a personal finance course for high school students?

Click here for the ready-to-go slides for this Question of the Day that you can use in your classroom. 

Behind the numbers (research report from Montana State University):

While five states require students to complete standalone personal finance courses prior to graduating from high school,1 additional states require that schools incorporate financial literacy standards into required curricula, others require schools offer a class that covers financial literacy, and other states are silent on financial literacy matters. This means that some schools are left to satisfy state requirements in a variety of ways, and others are completely free to decide which classes to offer and require. Given the returns to financial education requirements can be quite high, understanding where financial literacy is offered and required across America is important.2 I analyze hand-collected data from 2019-2020 course catalogs within 7,611 U.S. public high schools, including 14,255 hand-coded specific courses.

About the Author

Tim Ranzetta

Tim's saving habits started at seven when a neighbor with a broken hip gave him a dog walking job. Her recovery, which took almost a year, resulted in Tim getting to know the bank tellers quite well (and accumulating a savings account balance of over $300!). His recent entrepreneurial adventures have included driving a shredding truck, analyzing executive compensation packages for Fortune 500 companies and helping families make better college financing decisions. After volunteering in 2010 to create and teach a personal finance program at Eastside College Prep in East Palo Alto, Tim saw firsthand the impact of an engaging and activity-based curriculum, which inspired him to start a new non-profit, Next Gen Personal Finance.

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