RI (and maybe Ohio) will require financial literacy

Joanne Jacobs:

Rhode Island students will have to study financial literacy to earn a diploma, reports Marianna McMurdock on The 74. It will be a requirement starting with the class of ’24.

“On average, Rhode Island graduates have the second-highest student loan debt of any state, at $36,193,” she writes.

Last year, senior Saloni Jain took a personal finance course in a hybrid learning setup, with three days of learning online, at the suburban East Greenwich High School. She said course simulations, like completing mock returns on TurboTax and creating a budgeting spreadsheet, kept her engaged during virtual learning.

“We were getting paychecks — how do we put that money towards a 401(k) and pay all our bills and pay down our credit card or student loan debt? That was really helpful to visualize, you know, how we might live in the future,” Jain said. “It was just a one-semester course, but it honestly changed the way I think a lot.”

Nationally, 21 other states teach financial literacy, usually as part of math or civics classes, writes McMurdock, but “only seven require that a standalone, full-semester course be completed before graduation.”

Ohio may be the next to make financial literacy a graduation requirement. A bill passed with strong bipartisan support and is now on the governor’s desk.

Young people (and their parents) are more wary about the risks of taking on college debt, which may be fueling the interest in financial planning.