Just One High School Personal Finance Class is Worth More Than Most of Us Make in a Year

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Early financial education may save students thousands of dollars down the line.
Updated April 11, 2024
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High school students may be getting an upgrade in financial education. According to data from education nonprofit Next Gen Personal Finance, half of U.S. states are either working toward or already requiring high school students to take a personal finance class before graduation. Next Gen also found that 35 personal finance education bills are awaiting decision in 15 states.

Thanks to those lessons, students and their families could benefit big time outside of the classroom. According to one study, students who take one semester of personal finance in high school can save themselves up to $100,000 over their lifetimes by making smarter financial decisions.

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How students benefit

After taking personal financial courses, students may know how to use checking and savings accounts appropriately, understand the advantages of boosting their credit scores, and know how and why to avoid excessive credit card debt. Early financial literacy courses could also help students avoid accumulating overwhelming college loan debt. According to a study from the National Endowment for Financial Education, students might be less likely to take on private loans or high-interest credit cards if they’re aware of less expensive options and alternatives.

In addition, students can bring these lessons home to share with their family members who may not have the same access to personal finance education.

The value of a personal finance education

Starting financial education in the classroom can improve financial literacy beyond just studying for tests and passing quizzes. “Students bring these lessons home,” Tim Ranzatta, co-founder and CEO of Next Gen, told CNBC. “When you take that $100,000 in savings and multiply it across families and communities, it’s an incredible economic engine.”

The economy as a whole could benefit in the long run.

In addition to avoiding unsecured debt and making smarter financial decisions, according to data from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s Investor Education Foundation, students with a background that includes personal finance education may have lower debt delinquency rates as young adults.

Never too late to learn

If you haven’t taken any financial courses, a ton of resources are available to shore up your knowledge without re-entering a physical classroom. Podcasts offer practical lessons during your commute to work. They’re also free, and a range of topics are available.

Financial newsletters can provide educational resources or regular access to the latest information delivered straight to your inbox.

Making use of social media outlets might prove to be helpful as well. A 2021 MagnifyMoney survey found that investors between 18 and 40 scour social platforms like TikTok, YouTube, and Instagram to find the latest information on money and investments.

Bottom line

High school personal financial education has the power to change the future for students who might otherwise not have the opportunity to learn and don’t get those lessons at home. “Over 50% of parents in this country don't feel comfortable talking to their kids about money,” said Sean Simonini, founder of the Massachusetts Association of Student Representatives (MASR).

By initiating early teaching on the topic, students may have more success in achieving financial security before adulthood and share their lessons with family and friends to help them advance their own understanding and make safer financial decisions.

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Author Details

Taylor Bushey Taylor Bushey is a professional writer with a background in the banking industry. She also covers topics including home, wellness, lifestyle, fashion, and beauty.

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