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Personal Finance Classes Should Be Mandatory

The Connecticut legislature has voted to make financial literacy requirements for high school graduates mandatory. This is an important step forward for the state. There are only eight states in the country that have a fully implemented plan to require that every student take a personal finance class before graduation. According to NextGen Personal Finance, only one in ten high school students outside of those states are taking personal finance classes prior to graduation and high school students in rural locales are over three times more likely to take a personal finance course than students attending schools in urban locales.

The ability for every child in Connecticut to receive financial education before they graduate high school is of paramount importance. Parents and educators talk a lot about how to give students an equitable education and how to best provide them with the tools they need to be successful as an adult. Money management is a tool every student will need, no matter what they choose to do after high school.

Even as we are opening more jobs for students in the state that take them directly from high school to a well-paying career in manufacturing or other trades, we are not preparing these students to manage their hard-earned income. In states that don’t require financial instruction, some high schools opt to teach it and do an excellent job, but there’s an opportunity for others to incorporate it into their curriculums. Unfortunately, these schools are often in less affluent districts. This leads to students going out on their own with little to no idea about how to manage their money.

Having poor money management skills leads to more than a bounced check or an unpaid bill. According to an article in the Huff Post, studies have shown that those who struggle with financial burdens may also be neglecting their health to save money, even going so far as completely ignoring health issues. High stress levels can increase the risk of a heart attack by 25%, risk of heart disease by 40%, and the risk of a stroke by 50%. There are other concerns such as not being able to pass a background or credit check for employment, or loss of security clearance for military and government positions.  

Personal finance classes may not lead to higher paying jobs for all, but it will teach students how to manage the money they have. Understanding where your money is coming from and where it is going is a foundational building block for financial confidence as an adult.

If you or your student are interested in taking some personal finance classes, Chelsea Groton Bank offers hundreds of classes each year in person and online. Visit our website to register for live classes. If you just don’t have enough time in the day, check out our online learning page or other resources, articles, and videos on our website to get information at your own pace.

This post was written by Miria Gray, AS, Community Education Officer at Chelsea Groton Bank. In addition to developing and facilitating hundreds of financial wellness programs in the region each year, Miria is a member of the Connecticut Department of Banking Financial Wellness and Empowerment Initiative which supports innovative programs designed to improve financial wellness and empowerment among women and girls in Connecticut. She also serves as a member of the Connecticut JumpStart Coalition, which focuses on improving the personal financial literacy of Connecticut’s youth, and she is a member of the CT Saves Campaign (part of America Saves), which motivates, encourages, and supports low- to moderate-income households to save money, reduce debt, and build wealth.