Results Summary

As you will see in this report, a B grade does not necessarily mean that a state requires an adequate level of instruction. The Center estimates that half of Grade B states allocate less than one-quarter of a half-year course in high school to personal finance topics. This means that students in 10 of these Grade B states receive between 7 and 14 hours of personal finance instruction in all of high school. In fact, our research identifies just 10 states that appear to require 15 or more hours of personal finance education in high school.

Summary of Grades

States by the Grade

GRADE # OF STATES % OF STATES* STATES
A 5 10% Alabama, Missouri, Tennessee, Utah & Virginia.
B 20 39% Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina, Texas & West Virginia.
C 11 22% Colorado, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma & Oregon.
D 3 6% Montana, Vermont & Wyoming.
F 12 24% Alaska, California, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Washington & Wisconsin.

*May not equal 100% due to rounding.

GRADE A:

Alabama, Missouri, Tennessee, Utah & Virginia 

Tennessee and Utah both require a half-year course in personal finance as a graduation requirement. Alabama and Virginia both require that personal finance instruction be given as part of a full-year course. Based on our review of the educational standards of these full-year courses, we concluded that students in these states are receiving the equivalent of a half-year personal finance course. Missouri allows local school districts to determine whether the personal finance instruction is delivered in a stand-alone half-year course or is embedded as half of the instruction in a full-year course.

The state of Utah should be commended for its efforts. Utah requires that all high school students take a half-year course exclusively dedicated to personal finance topics, and students are required to take an endof-course assessment examination created and administered by the state. The state requires that educators teaching this course obtain a specific endorsement in general financial literacy that includes coursework on financial planning, credit and investing, and consumer, personal and family economics. The state also provides its educators with tools, resources and many professional development opportunities. General financial literacy is a funded mandate in Utah.


GRADE B:

Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina, Texas & West Virginia

States with a B grade have personal finance topics in their educational standards and require local school districts to implement them. To graduate from high school in a B state, a student must take a course that includes personal finance topics. Most states identify a specific course that must be taken to graduate from high school that includes financial literacy instruction. Other states have very specific standards that must be taught as a graduation requirement but leave how the instruction is implemented up to local school districts. 

These states require that personal finance topics be taught and embed them in economics, civics, family and consumer sciences, business, life skills, career readiness or mathematics courses.


GRADE C:

Colorado, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma & Oregon

States were given the grade of C because they require that substantive personal finance topics be taught in high school by inclusion of these topics in the states' instructional guidelines. However, it is left up to the local school board to determine how and where to integrate these topics into the classroom.

Unlike Grade B states, Grade C states do not require students to take a course with personal finance topics included. There is often a large difference between graduation requirements-something all students must do-and instructional guidelines-something all schools must provide instruction on. It appears that in some of these states this requirement can be met by offering an elective, which means that many students will graduate without any exposure to these personal finance topics if such an elective is offered.

It is not clear how the states determine if the local schools are in fact meeting requirements. The states are not monitoring how the required academic standards are being taught at the local school district level. Two of the states, Mississippi and New Mexico, earned a C grade because they require that each high school offer a personal finance course as an elective. This at least gives students and parents the choice of taking such a course.


GRADE D:

Montana, Vermont & Wyoming

Those states receiving a D grade require that modest levels of personal finance topics be included in instructional guidelines and that the school districts implement them. Schools are not instructed to include the topics in any course needed for graduation. In Grade D states, personal finance concepts are often taught in elective courses, if they are taught at all. How these standards are implemented is left up to the school districts. It is not clear how the states ensure that the schools teach these topics. These states are not monitoring how the required academic standards are being taught at the local school district level.


GRADE F:

Alaska, California, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Washington & Wisconsin

These states have few requirements or none at all for personal finance education in high school. High school students in these states are able to graduate without ever having the opportunity to take a course that includes financial literacy instruction.