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Mapped: Personal Finance Requirements, by State

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Mapped: Personal Finance Requirements, by State

Personal Finance Requirements, by State

What happens when 600 kindergartners are given $50 to save for college?

In 2011, low-income students in San Francisco were given $50 to put in a bank account through a personal finance program that covered financial topics and encouraged families to save for college. By 2023, the average balance was $1,422, or 28 times the starting balance.

With soaring college costs and low financial literacy levels in the U.S., it highlights the role of financial education and how it can impact a person’s future. The above graphic shows personal finance course requirements by state in December 2023 based on data from Next Gen Personal Finance.

How Many Students Take a Personal Finance Course?

For many years, personal finance courses played a minor role in U.S. high schools.

While these courses were offered, often they had to compete with finite resources: schools must choose where classroom time is allocated.

It was not until 2008 that Utah became the first state to mandate high school students to take a personal finance course to graduate. By 2019, six states made this a requirement. Since then it has risen to 24 states as of this year, covering more than 50% of the country’s student population.

The table below shows the percent of high school students who must take a personal finance course over one semester in order to graduate, by state:

U.S. State% of Students Required to Take a Personal Finance Course
Alabama100%
Alaska<1%
Arizona1%
Arkansas30%
California<1%
Colorado13%
Connecticut100%
Delaware6%
Florida100%
Georgia100%
Hawaii0%
Idaho2%
Illinois14%
Indiana100%
Iowa97%
Kansas100%
Kentucky4%
Louisiana100%
Maine16%
Maryland27%
Massachusetts6%
Michigan100%
Minnesota100%
Mississippi99%
Missouri100%
Montana8%
Nebraska100%
Nevada3%
New Hampshire100%
New Jersey45%
New Mexico<1%
New York3%
North Carolina95%
North Dakota12%
Ohio100%
Oklahoma43%
Oregon100%
Pennsylvania17%
Rhode Island100%
South Carolina100%
South Dakota57%
Tennessee100%
Texas3%
Utah100%
Vermont29%
Virginia100%
Washington2%
Washington D.C.0%
West Virginia100%
Wisconsin100%
Wyoming33%

Fully implemented states include Alabama, Iowa, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia. States where implementation is in progress include Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Michigan, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Oregon, Louisiana, Indiana, West Virginia, Connecticut, Minnesota, Wisconsin.

Wisconsin became the most recent state to implement this requirement as of December. Overall, eight states have fully implemented programs for high school students to take a personal finance course for graduation and 16 programs are currently in progress.

Financial Literacy: Where Do Americans Stand Today?

Roughly six in 10 of Americans are financially literate, measured by their knowledge of inflation, numeracy, compound interest, and risk diversification.

Separately, many Americans do not feel financially prepared for the future, and over a third of respondents did not discuss financial topics with their parents growing up.

U.S. Financial Literacy

We can see that gaps exist when it comes to financial knowledge, which can have consequences—especially for a person’s future financial stability. For many reasons, broadening the scope of financial education may be one way to encourage smarter financial decisions in terms of how a person saves and invests through their life.

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Charted: Who Has Savings in This Economy?

Older, better-educated adults are winning the savings game, reveals a January survey by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago.

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A cropped chart visualizing the percentage of respondents to the statement “I have money leftover at the end of the month” categorized by sentiment, age, and education qualifications.

Who Has Savings in This Economy?

This was originally posted on our Voronoi app. Download the app for free on iOS or Android and discover incredible data-driven charts from a variety of trusted sources.

Two full years of inflation have taken their toll on American households. In 2023, the country’s collective credit card debt crossed $1 trillion for the first time. So who is managing to save money in the current economic environment?

We visualize the percentage of respondents to the statement “I have money leftover at the end of the month” categorized by age and education qualifications. Data is sourced from a National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE) report, published last month.

The survey for NEFE was conducted from January 12-14, 2024, by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago. It involved 1,222 adults aged 18+ and aimed to be representative of the U.S. population.

Older Americans Save More Than Their Younger Counterparts

General trends from this dataset indicate that as respondents get older, a higher percentage of them are able to save.

AgeAlways/OftenSometimesRarely/Never
18–2929%33%38%
30–4436%27%37%
45–5939%23%38%
Above 6049%28%23%
All Adults39%33%27%

Note: Percentages are rounded and may not sum to 100.

Perhaps not surprisingly, those aged 60+ are the age group with the highest percentage saying they have leftover money at the end of the month. This age group spent the most time making peak earnings in their careers, are more likely to have investments, and are more likely to have paid off major expenses like a mortgage or raising a family.

The Impact of Higher Education on Earnings and Savings

Based on this survey, higher education dramatically improves one’s ability to save. Shown in the table below, those with a bachelor’s degree or higher are three times more likely to have leftover money than those without a high school diploma.

EducationAlways/OftenSometimesRarely/Never
No HS Diploma18%26%56%
HS Diploma28%33%39%
Associate Degree33%31%36%
Bachelor/Higher Degree59%21%20%
All Adults39%33%27%

Note: Percentages are rounded and may not sum to 100.

As the Bureau of Labor Statistics notes, earnings improve with every level of education completed.

For example, those with a high school diploma made 25% more than those without in 2022. And as the qualifications increase, the effects keep stacking.

Meanwhile, a Federal Reserve study also found that those with more education tended to make financial decisions that contributed to building wealth, of which the first step is to save.

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