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2024 CEE Survey Of The States Show Progress For Financial Education

Finance plays a part in every decision of our adult lives, from choosing a career to when to retire – and everything in between. However, personal finance is still not a required course in every high school…yet.

For 75 years, the Council for Economic Education (CEE) has worked to change that. There mission is to equip K-12 students with the tools and knowledge of personal finance and economics so that they can make better decisions for themselves, their families, and their communities.

Every two years, the CEE publishes the Survey of the States, an important benchmark for progress in K–12 economic and financial education, revealing both how far we’ve come as a country and how far we still have to go. The 2024 Survey of the States reports that opportunities have greatly improved for young people across America to learn the essential personal finance knowledge they need to reach their full life-long economic potential.

“It’s been a banner two years for young people’s financial knowledge and futures,” said Nan J. Morrison, CEE President & CEO. “Requiring all high schools to teach principles of personal finance and economics and all students to study it creates equity and possibility. Putting life-essential financial knowledge into the hands of more and more kids is cause for celebration.”

In the past two years, 12 states have passed legislation requiring that all students take a stand-alone course in personal finance to graduate from high school —9 of those were passed in 2023 alone. The new regulations in these 12 states will lead to over 10 million additional K–12 students—21% of current students—gaining guaranteed access to this knowledge.

Research clearly shows the positive impact that at least a semester can have on young people’s financial decisions in early adulthood. In a 2022 poll conducted by the National Endowment for Financial Education, 88% of U.S. adults agreed that their state should require a personal finance course for high school graduation.

At the live event unveiling the CEE’s findings, panelist Kevin Morgan, a CEE Master Teacher of Social Studies and Personal Financial Literacy, said that personal finance is the most important course a student will ever take. “I hear everyday ‘Where was this class when I was in high school?’”. He states the students are engaged because they know how relevant it is. “In many of the states who have passed these mandates, it’s the students that are requesting this education.”

While most agree this is something that should be taught in high school, getting legislation passed is a different story. One of the 2023 success stories is Pennsylvania. PA State Senator Chris Gebhard joined the CEE panel to emphasize the importance of financial education. “My parents talked to us about credit cards, insurance and investing when we were young. I never realized what a blessing that was, because this was information we weren’t getting in schools.” When Gebhard moved into Pennsylvania politics and saw finance wasn’t being taught at the high school level, he prioritized passing legislation to solve this problem and the bill was passed in December. When asked what advice he’d give to the 15 states who haven’t passed legislation, Gebhard says it’s all about finding an advocate. “First and most important find someone who wants to champion the idea. It was an idea I truly believed in, and saw how it could be a positive change for the future of young adults in PA. Find someone who has that view in each state.”

You can help strengthen economic and personal finance education by:

  • Requesting a course in your school or district
  • Calling for the professional development that teachers want
  • promoting standards and course requirements at the state level.
  • Contact the Council for Economic Education or your local CEE affiliate

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