Florida is officially the largest state to mandate a financial literacy course for high school graduation.
On Tuesday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed bill SB 1054 into law. The legislation was unanimously passed by both the state House of Representatives and Senate in early March.
“What the bill is doing with financial literacy is really providing a foundation for students that’s going to be applicable in their lives regardless of what path they take,” said DeSantis during a Tuesday press event. “This will provide a foundation for the students to learn the basics of money management, understanding debt, understanding how to balance a checkbook, understanding the fundamentals of investing.”
The new law will apply to students entering ninth grade in the 2023-2024 school year, and require that they take a half-credit course in personal finance before they graduate.
“Whether our students choose to go to one of our great colleges or universities, do a trade or apprenticeship program, a career in the arts or the military, every student deserves to be equipped with the education and knowledge to succeed financially in our society,” said Rep. Demi Busatta Cabrera, a Republican and one of the main sponsors of the bill.
Florida is the latest in a growing trend of states adopting legislation that includes personal finance education for students.
“The world of money is changing so fast, if we don’t help our students keep up, the next generation is going to repeat cycles of a lack of financial literacy,” said Yanely Espinal, director of educational outreach at Next Gen Personal Finance, a nonprofit.
Currently, there are 54 personal finance education bills pending in 26 states, according to Next Gen Personal Finance’s bill tracker. Now, 11 states, including Florida, require students to take a stand-alone personal finance course to graduate, which the nonprofit considers the gold standard of such education.
More than 20 other states include some sort of personal finance education in their curriculum in different ways. And others have various proposals, as well. For example, a bill proposed in Arizona says a personal finance course can fulfill a math course requirement, according to Next Gen Personal Finance.
Another bill proposed in Tennessee would mandate personal finance courses for middle school students. Tennessee is one of seven states that already guarantee personal finance courses for high schoolers.
The activity shows that states are recognizing the importance of personal financial education for their students. While the coronavirus pandemic upended such education across the country, it also highlighted the importance of teaching solid financial habits.