We need to teach financial literacy in NY high schools

We need to teach financial literacy in NY high schools

Financial literacy should be taught in all New York schools. When students take a financial literacy course, they learn about personal finance, budgeting, and investing. They are better equipped and informed to make important financial decisions in the future that may affect their long-term financial success and quality of life.

There is no question that investing in financial literacy will pay dividends for our youth later in life.

Recently, the state Department of Education’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Graduation Measures recommended to the Board of Regents that financial literacy should be a graduation requirement.

As part of the process to review New York’s graduation rates, the commission surveyed hundreds of New Yorkers, asking: “What knowledge, skills, and/or experiences do you think are important for all students to have?” after high school?” One of the most frequent answers is, “Financial literacy: loans, money management, living within your means, saving for retirement…”

Financial literacy is clearly a public concern and a required course in our high schools is being given serious consideration by the state Department of Education. The department is also exploring ways to integrate financial literacy across academic disciplines throughout a student’s academic career. Students should learn age-appropriate topics about money; its value; how to save, invest and spend; and how to budget as more and more financial decisions are made and as more and more students decide to go to college and take on student loan debt.

Just as teenagers must take a driver’s education course before driving a vehicle, we have a responsibility to empower students with the skills to effectively manage their finances before driving. apply for a credit card, student loan or loan. It’s time for New York to catch up with states that have for decades taught a financial literacy course and required it for high school graduation.

In Utah, where the 2008 class was the first required to take a financial education course, the benefits were measured. According to a 2018 review of the program by the state auditor, Utah high school graduates have more financial knowledge and better financial habits. Additionally, the state auditor found that the course standards provide “essential life skills that are applicable to all students regardless of gender, race, or socioeconomic status.”

Experts and researchers also found positive results of financial literacy education in Georgia, Idaho, and Texas, with those states reporting relatively higher credit scores and lower relative delinquency rates for of students who took the course compared to those who did not.

In New York, only 20 high schools offer stand-alone, semesterlong personal finance courses that can be required for graduation, according to the nonprofit Next Gen Personal Finance.

Akron High School in upstate New York for example, began offering personal finance in 2016, and the course became a requirement for graduation in 2018. Students graduate knowing important topics such as on compound interest, debt, credit score, how to start saving, and more. , how to prepare for a financial emergency.

Young adults are increasingly facing higher levels of debt whether from student loans or credit cards, and many from low-income households are falling victim to predatory lending, scams, and high-interest loans. Preventing these common financial pitfalls starts with financial literacy education in all our schools.

Financial literacy can be a great equalizer for students, and New York can’t wait. It is in the economic and social interest of the state to offer personal finance to our schools today.

This guest essay presents the views of State Education Commissioner Betty A. Rosa and State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.

This guest essay presents the views of State Education Commissioner Betty A. Rosa and State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.

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