High School Kids Should Take Personal Finance, and Pass It, to Graduate

One state may mandate it — students gain far more responsibility

Some things just make sense. In South Carolina, that includes teaching teenagers about dollars and cents before they head out to college or into the world of work.

State Sen. Luke Rankin (R-Conway) introduced a bill requiring high school students take a personal finance class in order to graduate.

If approved, the requirement would start with the 2020-2021 school year.

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Classwork for the half-credit course must include an end-of-the-program examination. The State Department of Education would develop the curriculum.

The bill itself says, “Beginning with the 2020-2021 school year, each high school student shall complete a one-half credit course of study in personal finance as a requirement for high school graduation in place of existing economics coursework requirements. This coursework must include an end-of-course examination. The State Department of Education shall develop the curriculum for this coursework before July 1, 2020.”

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“It’s a great idea,” South Carolina native Anthony ONeal of Ramsey Solutions told LifeZette this week. “Other states that require a personal finance class for graduation include Alabama, Missouri, Tennessee, Utah, and Virginia.”

While some states require high schools to offer personal finance as a class choice, students do not have to take and pass the class in order to graduate. To make matters worse, the 2018 Survey of the States: Economic and Personal Finance Education in Our Nation’s Schools found that the number of states that require students to be tested on economic concepts has stayed flat — at just 16.

Combine that with too many parents leaving it up to the schools to raise their kids today — and it’s no wonder many people in this country believe other people should pay for their stuff.

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ONeal said he’s seen firsthand the impact that personal finance courses have on students.

“We’ve learned that 30 percent of students taking personal finance classes were earning an average of about $3,000 a year, and 20 percent of this group already owed a car that they paid for themselves. This class will help students become more confident if this is mandated for all.”

ONeal himself knows a few things about debt. By the age of 19, he got himself deep into debt. His sense of hope plummeted and he lacked direction for his life, according to his biography. But he turned himself around and became committed to helping students find and pursue their passions. He became a pastor at The Bethel Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida, and later joined Ramsey Solutions to spread positive messages about critical life decisions, including those involving money.

Since 2003, Anthony ONeal Youth Ministries has helped thousands of students find success with money management in their work and personal lives.

“Student loan debt today is over $1.5 trillion, with millions of Americans holding debt right now, and I was one of those Americans because I didn’t have this education when I was in high school back in the late 1990s and early 2000s,” ONeal, who today is based in Nashville, Tennessee, told LifeZette.

“Young people taking our personal finance classes are learning, ‘Hey, I don’t need to take out student loans. I don’t need to have a credit card. I can honestly save and invest in my future.’ Young people who take personal finance classes are making better financial decisions.”

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It appears that many students do want to take personal finance classes. A 2017 survey from the National Financial Educators Counsel asked 5,123 young adults what high school-level course would benefit their life most.

Money management was chosen more often than math, science, or social studies.

“We have a Ramsey Solutions Foundations program inside high schools throughout the country, and we’ve helped over four million students,” said ONeal. “If you’re out of high school and you’re an adult and you need some help with your finances, look into our Financial Peace University course and our membership.”

Chris Woodward is a reporter for American Family News and He is based in Tupelo, Mississippi.

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