Personal Finances Courses in High School on the Rise

Financial Literacy Education Surges in Nation’s Schools

Date: April 4, 2005

Contact: Paul Golden 303-224-3514, [email protected]

ENGLEWOOD, COLORADO—When Johnny and Jane return to school this year, more than reading, writing and arithmetic may await them. An increasing number of states are encouraging, and in some instances requiring, schools to better prepare students for their financial future by providing instruction in basic personal finance.At least eight states have legislated that personal financial education be either a requirement for high school graduation, or a course that must be offered.[1] These states include Idaho, Illinois, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, New York, Texas and Utah.

“Just as interest in financial literacy education is growing, so is its necessity,” said William L. Anthes, Ph.D., president and CEO of the Colorado-based National Endowment for Financial Education® (NEFE®). “Many students leave high school today with poor money-management habits that will last a lifetime,” Anthes continued. “From learning to manage a paycheck to  understanding credit to saving money to pay for college or other goals, the need for financial education among teenagers now is stronger than ever.”

Anthes cites a recent survey of high school seniors to underscore the current gap in financial literacy.[2] The nationwide survey, conducted in 2004, measured 12th-graders’ knowledge of personal finance basics such as credit, saving, insurance and retirement. More than half (65.5 percent) of students received a failing grade on their answers.

Some states aren’t waiting for legislation to move forward with financial literacy mandates and have voluntarily joined with NEFE to provide the much-needed education to students. In Massachusetts, for example, the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation entered into a public-private partnership with NEFE last year to provide the free NEFE High School Financial Planning Program® (HSFPP) curriculum to schools throughout the state, and was joined in the effort by the state’s Department of Education.

Consisting of six units, the NEFE curriculum focuses on goal setting, budgeting and savings, while covering specific topics such as earning money, the compounding of interest, credit and insurance. The program is designed to be used within the context of existing courses and can be presented over a period of weeks or months. It can be taught in as few as 10 hours of classroom instruction, although many instructors teach it even longer to give students the full benefit of the program. A step-by-step instructor’s manual and 120-page student guide contain all necessary course material.

During the 2004-2005 school year, NEFE provided Massachusetts with nearly 10,000 free student guides and more than 300 instructor’s manuals for the first phase of the voluntary statewide initiative, known as “Hi-Fi.” NEFE representatives also helped train teachers to use the program.

“We heard first-hand from students, their parents and educators about the benefits of the program,” said Beth Lindstrom, director of the Office of Consumer Affairs andBusiness Regulation, speaking before approximately 400 school superintendents at their annual meeting in July. “It’s clear that the need for personal financial knowledge is there and that this curriculum is filling the void.” In total, during the 2004-2005 school year, nearly 650,000 HSFPP student guides were ordered by more than 7,500 high school teachers in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, the highest level of demand for the program since it was developed in 1984. The total number of students who have taken the course surpassed four million in 2005.

The HSFPP is offered by NEFE in partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service; participating Land-Grant University Cooperative Extension Services; the Credit Union National Association, Inc. and America’s Credit Unions. For more information, log on to the Education Programs section of


[1] National Council on Economic Education (NCEE): Survey of the States, March 2005

[2] 2004 National Jump$tart Coalition Survey


  • Paul Golden

    Media Relations Director

    Direct: 303-224-3514
    Cell: 303-918-3620
    [email protected]