At the end of this report are brief overviews of how each state approaches personal finance education in their public high schools. The Center's research includes detailed reviews of high school graduation requirements, academic standards as they relate to personal finance and state laws, and regulations and rules that relate to how each state delivers personal finance education in its public high schools.
The state grades in this report are also based on a review of financial literacy legislation summaries maintained by the National Conference of State Legislatures for the last eight years. For more information, see the "Sources Used for Grading the States and Additional References and Resources" section of this report. The Center also reviewed the Council for Economic Education's "2016 Survey of the States."
As thorough as the Center's researchers tried to be, it is possible that some of the grades in this report are based on incomplete or inaccurate information and thus might be too severe or too lenient for a particular state. We want the grades to be based on the best information possible, and so we welcome any corrections or additional data for future updates. We encourage you to send any information that you believe we should be made aware of to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Guide to the Grading System
|Grade||Percent and Number of States (Plus D.C)*|
|Grade A||10% (5 states)|
(15 hours or more of instruction)
|12% (6 states)|
(less than 15 hours of instruction or hours of instruction cannot be estimated)
|26% (13 states)|
|Grade C||24% (12 states)|
|Grade D||8% (4 states)|
|Grade F||22% (11 states)|
*May not equal 100% due to rounding.
The Center for Financial Literacy at Champlain College has graded all 50 states and the District of Columbia on their efforts to teach the ABC's of financial literacy to high school students. The grading system used in this report has been modified slightly from the 2015 report card. The D grade definition was changed to address a new delivery method of personal finance in Louisiana. A Grade C is given to states that require a stand-alone personal finance elective course in all high schools. Louisiana requires all public high schools to offer an elective course that includes some personal finance education. This new type of delivery mechanism is given a Grade D, since it provides students with substantially less personal finance education than a stand-alone personal finance elective.
A Quick Guide to the Grading System
The state requires personal finance instruction as a graduation requirement that is equal to a one-semester, half-year course (minimum of 60 hours of personal finance instruction in an academic year).
The state mandates personal finance education as part of a required course. In some of these states, local school districts determine whether the personal finance instruction requirement is met through a stand-alone course offering or is embedded in another course.
The state has substantive personal finance topics in its academic standards that the local school districts are expected to teach. Implementation is left to local school districts with no material oversight by the state. There is no specific delivery mechanism identified for financial literacy instruction. A state may also receive a C grade if it requires a stand-alone personal finance elective course.
The state has modest levels of personal finance education in its academic standards that local school districts are expected to teach. Implementation is left to local school districts with no material oversight by the state. There is no specific delivery mechanism identified for financial literacy instruction. A state may also receive a D grade if it requires schools to offer an elective course that includes some personal finance education.
The state has virtually no requirements for personal finance education in high school. Students in these states are able to graduate without ever having the opportunity to take a course that includes financial literacy instruction.
It is important to note that states with a grade of C, D or F have local school districts that may require a stand-alone financial literacy course as a graduation requirement. When this occurs, it is a local school district policy and not a statewide policy. This report only grades the educational policies of state governments, not local school districts.
The Center's grading system is based on the belief that, at a minimum, all high school students should be required to take a designated course that includes personal finance topics—even if these topics are just a modest part of the overall course offering.
We recognize that creating a stand-alone course or other course in which personal finance is embedded can be difficult to achieve. States often tell us that adding a personal finance course requirement is just not possible due to local control issues.
Ironically, many of these states have adopted national educational standards, such as the Common Core for high school English and mathematics, and other national standards for science, social studies and physical education. We believe that if a state can use national models to mandate what must be taught in certain topics, like mathematics, language arts, sciences and social studies, they can follow a similar path to requiring instruction in financial literacy.