Nine-year-old student Roberto Nieves Fernandez uses SmartPath, an online resource center, to study personal finance topics on his laptop.

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More states are requiring students to take personal financial education courses before graduating from high school.

Twenty-three states now require personal finance courses for students, according to a 2022 state survey released Thursday by the Economic Education Council.

Since 2020, when the last survey was published, two states, Nebraska and New Mexico, have passed legislation allowing all students to take personal finance courses before graduating from high school.

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“It is encouraging to see some progress in the latest research,, All young people across the country need more and deserve better,” said Nan Morrison, president and CEO of the Economic Education Council.

uneven progress

For more than 20 years, there has been consistent momentum in states adding personal finance education in a variety of ways. The number of states that include personal finance in their education standards has surged from 21 states in 1998 to 47 states in 2022.

Of course, what these 47 states offer and what they need vary greatly. Twenty-seven states offer personal finance courses in high school, but only 23 states require students to take the course in order to graduate.

And only 9 of those courses are stand-alone Personal Finance courses, the rest are merged into another class.

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“The financial education landscape offered to U.S. students is vastly different, and the nonprofit leaders promoting guaranteed access to these essential courses everywhere.

“Where students live should not affect whether they have access to knowledge that will help them learn how to make informed financial decisions in life,” Gachou added.

These differences are important because, without broader guidelines, students from low-income families and people of color often do not have the same access to personal financial education, Morrison said.

“When requirements don’t pass, it only exacerbates existing gaps,” says Morrison.

lagging economics course

The report also found that while there has been consistent momentum in recent years to add personal financial education and requirements to high school curricula, guidelines for economics courses have stagnated.

Since 2011, only three states have added a requirement that students take economics courses in order to graduate.

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Economics sometimes overlaps with personal financial education, but both are important courses of study, Morrison says. Studying economics gives students the opportunity to think and analyze many topics relevant to the world, such as the environment, housing, and employment.

Personal finance courses, on the other hand, help students learn to manage their own money and make sound choices in light of what is happening in the world.

“In my ideal world, every child would have at least a semester in economics and a semester in personal finance to develop a good set of skills,” she said.

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