Personal finance education should be a high school graduation requirement, says an educational survey.
In March, the National Endowment for Financial Education conducted a survey of over a thousand adults, looking into what they felt school could have done better to help support their financial futures.
88 percent of the respondents said that requiring an education in personal finance would have been valuable. And they didn’t want a pamphlet or a seminar, they wanted a full course, the same degree of education as calculus or world history.
“Americans overwhelmingly recognize the importance of learning money skills at an early age, and this poll reinforces there is demonstrated national support for personal finance to be a part of learning in all schools,” said Billy Hensley, president and CEO of the National Endowment for Financial Education.
“Financial education unequivocally is the foundation for acquiring and applying knowledge, though we are transparent that education alone is not enough to overcome systemic barriers,” said Hensley.
Asked to prioritize aspects of that education, the survey respondents put budgeting as the most important skill to be taught, followed by managing credit and growing savings. At the bottom of the list were investing and managing risk.
Breaking the survey down into parts, the older, richer, or better educated a respondent was, the higher priority they put on mandating personal financial education.
Currently, 11 states require personal finance courses for graduation, although none of them require it to be a full-length course. 26 more states have similar bills pending. Some states, like Arizona, allow a personal finance course to replace a math class.
About one in four U.S. students has access to a personal financial course. But allowing them to be an elective means that most of those students will not be actually able to take it – electives are always filled on a first-come, first-served basis. Mandating a personal finance education guarantees that all students will have access.