Student Olivia Raymond participates in a personal finance class in her middle school class in West Orange, New Jersey in February 2020.
Pursuing financial literacy is something that should continue beyond the traditional school years, according to several state governors.
“We think it’s an experience of a lifetime,” New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy told CNBC’s Sharon Epperson at Wednesday’s Invest in You: The Governors Strategy Session on Financial Education event. .
Governor Steve Sisolak of Nevada agrees on the importance of financial literacy.
“It’s a skill that’s needed for your whole life,” he said. “We have to approach it longer term in that respect.”
State of Personal Finance Education
There are no federal guidelines for personal finance education in schools, which means it’s up to each state to set its own rules. And there are 23 states that mandate a personal finance course for students, according to the 2022 State Survey of the Economic Education Council.
In New Jersey, personal finance education is taught in college, and courses in financial, economics, and entrepreneurship are required to graduate.
“You have to reach people while they’re young, and that’s the driving reason behind integrating financial literacy education into our college curriculum,” said Murphy, a Democrat.
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Nevada students learn personal finance topics as part of a social studies course, typically starting in third grade and continuing through high school. In Mississippi, starting this year, a college and career readiness course that includes personal financial education is required for high school graduation.
“Each state has to make its own decision and its own priorities about which classes are most appropriate for its young people,” said Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves, a Republican. “But I absolutely believe that a fundamental understanding of finance is extremely important for success in life.”
It also means states can change their guidelines as they see fit.
“A mandatory class may be the next step we’re going toward,” said Sisolak, a Democrat. He added that it is important to have such a program in schools because many students cannot receive financial education at home from their parents, who may also lack financial literacy.
State governors agree that one of the reasons it’s important to have a personal finance curriculum in schools is that many students’ parents can’t teach them financial literacy at home or just don’t talk not enough money.
New Jersey also offers residents access to more personal financial education outside of school. Murphy announced today at the CNBC event that the state has launched NJ End Beda financial wellness platform.
“Financial literacy is extremely important for Americans to ensure their personal financial foundation, to be better positioned to support their families and prepare for future success,” Murphy said.
The platform was developed by Enrich and is powered by San Diego-based financial education company iGrad. It includes personal finance courses on several topics including budgeting, saving, retirement, student loans and also has real-time budgeting tools. It is free for all adult residents of New Jersey.
States have also ensured that educators have professional development resources to keep up with the ever-changing financial environment and answer questions about things like meme stocks and cryptocurrencies.
Mississippi offers a master teacher in personal finance program and coaching.
“The best way for a child to get a quality education is to have a quality teacher,” Reeves said. “You should be in continuing education for personal finance teachers all the time, just like you do for English, math, or any other subject.”
Of course, every state has areas where it could improve its offerings of personal finance education for students, teacher training, and resources for adult voters. And each state will likely come up with individual solutions and offers for its residents in the future.
Many states are moving forward with legislation making personal finance education mandatory for their students. There are currently 54 personal finance bills pending in 26 states, according to Next Gen Personal Finance Invoice Tracking.