Personal finance

Florida lawmakers unanimously approve personal finance education bill

Nine-year-old student Roberto Nieves Fernandez studies personal finance topics on his laptop using online resource center SmartPath.
SMARTPATH

Florida is poised to become the largest state to make a financial literacy course mandatory for high school graduation.

The Florida Senate on Friday unanimously passed SB 1054 and sent it to the state House of Representatives, which also passed it without any opposition on Tuesday. The measure was sponsored by Sen. Travis Hutson and Rep. Demi Busatta Cabrera, both Republicans. It also had bipartisan support from 35 co-sponsors.

The bill will be sent to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, for his signature.

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“It is critical we set Florida students up for financial success, and this legislation will ensure vital financial literacy resources are available to students before graduation,” said Jimmy Patronis, Florida’s chief financial officer, in a Tuesday statement. “Financial literacy is an important key to a strong financial future and learning the basics of credit, budgeting, savings and investing can further prepare students for a successful future.”

Personal finance classes on the rise

When the bill is signed into law, Florida will become the largest state so far to mandate at least one semester of personal finance education, according to Next Gen Personal Finance, a nonprofit. The legislation will require students entering ninth grade in the 2023-2024 school year to take a half-credit course in personal finance or money management before they graduate.

“The success of this financial education bill will have a ripple effect on other states, especially because it passed unanimously in both the senate and house showing it is truly a bipartisan matter,” Yanely Espinal, director of educational outreach at Next Gen Personal Finance said in an email. “Everyone agrees that our students need and deserve 21st century relevant financial skills.”

Currently, there are 54 personal finance education bills pending in 26 states, according to Next Gen Personal Finance’s bill tracker. At least seven states, now possibly including Florida, require students to take a standalone personal finance course to graduate, which the nonprofit considers the gold standard of such education.

More than 20 other states include some sort of personal finance education in their curriculum in different ways. In Arizona, a personal finance course can fulfill a math course requirement, according to Next Gen Personal Finance. In addition, some states, such as Tennessee, are now mandating personal finance courses for middle school students, as well as those in high school.

The activity shows that states are recognizing the importance of personal financial education for their students. While the coronavirus pandemic upended such education across the country, it also highlighted the importance of teaching solid financial habits.

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