Ohio high school students will soon have to take a semester-long financial literacy course to graduate. And school districts will have to figure out how to train teachers and deliver the course.
The new requirement, which applies to students entering ninth grade after June 2022, is stricter and more targeted than how schools currently teach financial literacy.
Currently, the subject—money management, paying taxes, investing, debt management, and other topics—can be taught by any teacher and grouped into another course, usually social studies or math.
“Everyone, every student, every child, deserves to have that education when they graduate from a high school in Ohio,” said Sen. Steve Wilson, R-Maineville, a banker who sponsored the legislation.
The new graduation requirement will eventually impact about 475,000 students statewide.
It will also have an impact on teachers and school districts.
Wilson’s bill requires financial literacy to be its own course with a state-certified instructor. School districts are responsible for determining the details of how the class is offered.
Wilson said current standards for financial literacy in public schools are all over the place, with some schools doing a great job teaching it, while others don’t teach it at all. This bill creates statewide standards so that students receive the same financial education.
Non-public and charter schools are exempt, except that students attending these schools on state scholarships must complete at least 60 hours of financial literacy instruction.
“Everyone should know how to manage their money”
Some school districts in Ohio already offer financial literacy classes.
Jason Savage, a teacher at Thomas Worthington High School, who has been teaching business for nine years, said financial literacy should be reinforced throughout a student’s education and thinks it would be beneficial to complete financial literacy in other programs.
Savage’s class focuses on career exploration, investment basics, and insurance coverage.
Students learn how to pay taxes, create short, medium, and long-term financial plans, and budget.
“It doesn’t matter if you want to be a stay-at-home mom or dad or the CEO of a Fortune 500 company,” Savage said. “Everyone needs to know how to manage their money.”
Related: Southwestern Subject: Financial Literacy Course Helps Prepare Students for the Real World
Alumnus of Savage, Zach Henderson attributes his career choice in marketing and finance to his high school financial literacy teacher.
He said the financial literacy courses prepared him for the challenges that awaited him in college and after graduation, such as paying off a student loan.
“I can’t express the benefits,” Henderson said. “I’m comfortable. I know how to pay the bills. I know how to take care of myself. Budget is not an issue. These are all things that were instilled in me when I was in high school. Having a head start is huge and I think it could really help relieve a lot of people’s anxiety and tension once they step into the real world after graduating or after deciding to go. at University.”
Tasha Bishop agrees. She works for , and advises people on how to repair their credit and get their financial situation in order.
Bishop said the number one problem his agency sees is that people don’t understand how the credit reporting system works or how long it takes to establish credit.
“Credit is really the long game,” Bishop said. “It’s really important that we start young because a lot of people don’t get any financial education anywhere else. It’s important to have a basic curriculum from a trusted institution.”
Another common problem: People don’t know what’s affecting their credit score. Paying rent and utilities doesn’t factor into building credit, but things like opening or closing a credit card do.
Bishop said when people don’t have savings to fall back on in a financial emergency, they can turn to payday loans or online lenders for quick cash. They saw interest rates as high as 800%. Consumers don’t understand what they are getting into and this leads to a cycle of indebtedness.
If students learn to start saving money earlier in life, they can avoid falling into the debt trap, she said.
Julia Heath, director of the Center for Economics at the University of Cincinnati, has helped set financial literacy standards for K-8 schools in Tennessee and, more recently, Ohio.
“I think (a one-semester financial literacy course is) enough in terms of a high school experience,” Heath said. “I don’t think that’s enough to provide Ohio students with enough of a foundation for critical thinking, decision-making skills, and financial literacy to be what I would call financial literacy.”
Heath and Bishop said it’s never too early to start teaching kids about money. It is important to be aware that the information is from a reputable source, as there can be a lot of misinformation regarding credit and money.
“Financial health is really intertwined with your mental and physical health,” Bishop said. “Finances are one of the biggest causes of stress. Stress has many different effects on our body and mind. So by living a financially healthy life, you are happier, more productive, and healthier. health in all aspects of your life.” your life.”
Where to find financial literacy resources
- The Ohio Department of Education website lists free resources for students to further their education in financial literacy.
- The Federal Trade Commission offers information on topics such as budgeting, owning or buying a car, and dealing with debt.
- Apprisen offers credit and debt resources such as a blog and tips for budgeting, planning, and saving.
Mary Jane Sanese is a member of the EW Scripps School of Journalism Statehouse News Bureau program at Ohio University.