All Rhode Island High Schools are now required to apply for Personal Finance

sEven after years Students from a small high school in a suburb of Rhode Island succeeded in calling In order to adopt financial literacy standards, state lawmakers have made proficiency in personal finance a requirement for high school graduation, starting in the class of 2024.

Signed by Governor Dan Mackie on June 1, Law It sets a December 31 deadline for the development and approval of the state’s consumer education and personal finance standards. By the start of the 2022-23 school year, all public high schools in Rhode Island must offer a standards-compliant course.

“It is very aggressive to develop these standards and have them up and running in the timeframe we have set, but we know it is really necessary,” said state Education Commissioner Angelica Infante Green. in the middle, Rhode Island graduates have the second highest student loan debt of any state, priced at $36193.


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After meeting with students statewide who felt unprepared to attend college, and given the impact of the pandemic on student participation, the commissioner told The 74 that this is the moment to solidify what they’ve built behind them for years.

“[Students] I felt like this was something that changed [on]. So we made sure to move forward with this agenda.”

Rhode Island approved the National Council on Economic Education Standards in 2014. On average, only about 5 percent of Rhode Island students receive a financial education, according to the state’s Department of Education, because schools can choose whether or not to adopt the curriculum.

Last year, a Saloni Jain senior took a personal finance course in a hybrid learning setting, with three days of online learning, at East Greenwich High School. She said that simulating a cycle, such as completing dummy returns TurboTax And creating a budget spreadsheet, I kept sharing it during the virtual learning.

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

Related: McAlmont: Financial literacy can’t wait for college. Here is my second wish of career readiness for students to provide them with a boost of success

nationally, 21 other countries It has a version of the financial literacy standards, which can be integrated into the mathematics or civics classroom Seven only require it to be an independent course for an entire semester To be completed before graduation.

In 2021, More than 25 states have submitted bills Promote personal finance education. Advocates assert that literacy is key to breaking cycles of poverty, especially as the younger generation deals with the economic fallout of the pandemic. When loans, budgeting and debt management are explicitly explored during the school day, young people are exposed to it Life changing information They are heading towards adulthood.

a A 2018 study from Montana State University researchers showed that graduation requirements of financial literacy result in lower credit card balances and high-interest student loan debt for low-income students, and a decrease in private loans for high-income students. Working- and lower-class students who took financial literacy courses were also able to work less while enrolled in college, which may encourage perseverance in college and graduation. Expand access to personal finance courses Can help improve racial wealth gaps Support for home ownership.

Since 2020, an additional 25 states have proposed or enacted changes to financial literacy standards.  (Next Generation Personal Finance)

Since 2020, an additional 25 states have proposed or enacted changes to financial literacy standards. (Next Generation Personal Finance)

Even within countries considered to have the strongest standards and requirements, students Find more relationships in the real world to prepare them for the future. Whitman O’Sheaei, who recently graduated from high school in Alexandria, Virginia, described his compulsory schooling as “wider than it used to be.”

Leaving wondering about retirement decisions, building a balanced budget and the intuition behind big purchases, he began MoneyEd . Podcast In 2019 to explore these topics. Throughout the pandemic, he said, there is likely to be more working students and families facing economic instability.

“Often the only people who have access to this information are the people who had access to it anyway,” O’Sheaei said. “Especially for first-generation college students and students, and parents who may not be homeowners, this is the path for them to gain a deeper understanding of finance.”

Related: Rich school, poor school: As recession approaches, test results show wealthy students score higher in financial literacy

Some Rhode Island teachers have created elective courses in their schools in recent years, to meet students’ desires and to see how financial literacy has enabled a connection to hard-to-understand concepts such as compound interest. Before now thoughAnd Funding and implementation are left to individual teachers or schools to determine priorities.

Samantha Demerias teaches math, financial literacy, and computer science at Central Falls High School, which serves predominantly low-income Latino and black students in a working-class city north of Providence. She hopes that the legislation will open the door to financial support from the state for accreditation and employment, and build more capacity to teach this subject.

Otherwise, she said, “there will be an asymmetry between districts that are able to swing around their budgets or staff and make them work, and between districts that are weighed under all of these other things.”

Demairias teaches about three departments of finance annually; Enrollment is always on the higher side even with its elective mode, at about 25 to 30 students per class. This fall, you will also teach a section for Language Learners, which introduces students to America’s money and credit systems.

“If you enjoy learning something today, spread that news and talk about it with your friends. There is no reason why talking about money should be a taboo topic,” she told her students.

Advocates say personal finance education provides an opportunity for students to break down any stigmas around financial conversations before they head to big financial decisions, such as student loans, car ownership and credit card debt. Lessons learned can make their way home and support families facing economic challenges.

(Pat Paige)

(Pat Paige)

said Pat Page, Vice President of Rhode Island JumpStart Alliance Personal Finance and Business Educator.

Page, a former year teacher in Rhode Island, has been a staunch advocate of broader financial education for years, and was one of the first teachers in the state to teach an independent course. She supported students, including Sunny Sight, in testifying in favor of broader financial education for the state legislature — in 2014, 2019 and again in 2021.

Although Sait enrolled in Paige’s lesson two years ago, he said he still uses the concepts daily. Currently, a year after graduating this spring, he’s opened a Roth IRA, and has earmarked his internship salary to make sure he can still afford the things he loves, like karate.

“My mindset has definitely shifted a bit from thinking about money in terms of things, but rather than thinking about money as a way to grow, save and invest. My focus has really shifted from buying, being a consumer, to becoming an investor.”

Many describe the effort to make financial literacy a reality for all Rhode Islanders alike as a grassroots and led effort, driven by students and educators, but also state leaders, such as Treasurer Seth Magaziner, who helped introduce the legislation.

“The strongest advocates who worked hard to get this law passed are the teachers and students. Magaziner, who started his career as an elementary school teacher and recently announced His candidacy for governor.

Both the treasurer and education commissioner see signing the law as the first stage in creating a broader financial literacy landscape in the state — and they hope to expand the lessons to the middle and elementary grades. Education will make a certain difference in Rhode Island, Magaziner says.

“We have a large number of graduated immigrants, students who are learning English. We have one of the highest poverty rates in the Northeast. Financial education is not a panacea, not a panacea for everyone, but it is an important piece of the puzzle for how to resolve and correct these grievances.”

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