Financial Literacy Policy Update

Tori Young opens our March them with information that has shaped this addition to South Carolina High School Curriculum. Read more about Tori at the end of the blog.

Scrolling through social media, I often see young adults lamenting about why their teachers never taught them about taxes, credit, or interest rates. These adults feel lost and overwhelmed by the financial responsibility thrust upon them. While financial education may not look the same as it did fifteen years ago with Home Economics and Family and Consumer Science classes being defunded in several states, financial literacy is still integrated into many state standards through Social Studies and Freshman Readiness classes such as Economics or College and Career Readiness (CCR) classes. such as EPF.2.PR: “research and analyze the factors that impact personal income and long-term earning potential,” as an indicator in Economics and “students will be able to demonstrate productivity skills that will aid them in school and the workplace” as an objective in CCR.

            Financial literacy is one of the few skills taught in schools that has a direct application to life for each student at the moment of learning it and in the future, regardless of their career goals. Knowing how to manage a budget, keep a healthy credit score, take out and pay off loans, and consider healthy investments are something every American adult has to consider on some scale every day. To understand income and expenses, a bank versus a credit union, and credit and debit are simple terms in financial literacy, but understanding them can greatly impact someone’s financial success. Knowing what options are available and what they mean helps consumers make smart financial decisions for themselves and their families, as well as avoid being taken advantage of by banks, loan companies, and businesses.

            Lawmakers understand that when their constituents are financially literate, which means they can make better personal and business-related financial decisions, their states have greater economic success. Because of this, lawmakers over the past few years have begun to find ways to prioritize financial education through the standards of existing courses such as high school Economics and CCR courses that are already funded and required for graduation. Some states are even starting to require Personal Finance as a half-credit course, which teaches students how to balance a budget, plan for future expenses, understand banking and payment options, and choose appropriate loan and credit options for their personal goals. As financial literacy in middle and high school education is becoming a topic for our representatives, what should we know as teachers?

            As of December of 2023, only 25 states require at least a half credit of personal finance, with five states and Washington D.C. not including personal finance in their standards (Nex Gen Personal Finance). However, the past two years have seen exponential growth in financial literacy in high school education because more politicians have seen the importance of young people becoming financially literate. In South Carolina, back in 2022, lawmakers passed 1.101 (SDE: Graduation Requirements) to require an additional half credit of Personal Finance for graduation beginning with the current freshman class of 2023-2024 (SC Dept of Ed). To meet this requirement, many high schools in SC now require Business Ed, CCR, or Social Studies teachers to step in to teach the course. Not only do these courses help students as individuals to be financially successful, but they help their communities and states as well when everyone has a better understanding of their finances. While only half of our country is requiring this skill to be taught, it is promising that more states will be joining them in the near future.

            If you are wondering how this may apply to you as a middle or high school teacher, it has several impacts both in and out of the classroom! As a high school Economics teacher, I have found many skills from other disciplines necessary for my students to teach them personal finance effectively. We regularly calculate budgets, read data tables, and analyze graphs in class to analyze individual finance goals and overall economic patterns. Many of my students who struggle with personal finance struggle with mathematical and scientific literacy taught in the early years of schooling. For instance, the skills built in middle school science, learning about an X and Y axis, or in Algebra when dividing and working with decimals are crucial for students when they get to Personal Finance. You are building the infrastructure of financial literacy!

            Financial Literacy makes up the second standard in the current SC Economics standards for social studies. The motive is that “financial literacy is imperative in making individual economic decisions regarding spending, careers, and setting short- and long-term financial goals. Decision-making and marginal analysis tools are essential in evaluating possible financial options. The ability to make wise choices can impact one’s standard of living and future earning potential” (2019 SSCCR). In order to achieve this goal, Economics teachers rely on a foundation of disciplinary literacy across the general education courses. From ELA, we ask students to research reliable sources and read news articles to find key information about the job market to determine if their career choice is feasible and realistic. From Mathematics, we require the ability to add and subtract to manage expenses and balance a budget as well as read a graph to evaluate the highs and lows of the cost of living. And from Science, we are gathering data from sources and testing different financial choices repeatedly to come to a sound conclusion.

We can all agree the weight of financial responsibility is heavy, for everyone. In turn, when these students graduate and begin their careers, whatever that may be, these students will have the knowledge needed to navigate financial independence. And maybe one day, when they are extremely wealthy, they will remember those of us who helped them get there. 😉

If you want to learn more about personal finance and financial literacy or access free curriculum, resources, and games for students, check out If you are an Economics teacher and your state has implemented personal finance into your standards, check out and for great resources and learning modules!

Tori Young is a high school social studies teacher in Anderson, South Carolina. She is currently working on her Master’s in Instructional Design and Learning Technology at Anderson University.

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