When the vast majority of Rhode Island high schoolers graduate, they are ill prepared to deal with personal finance issues that they will encounter as they enter the workforce or college.
Rhode Island ranks among the bottom 10 states for Financial Literacy education according to surveys by Champlain College’s Center for Financial Literacy and WalletHub.
General Treasurer Seth Magaziner is hoping to change that. He’s promoting legislation that will, within three years, require every high school student to take a course in financial literacy.
“Having a good working knowledge of finance literacy is vital,” he said.
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The legislation would require every high school in Rhode Island to offer a course that includes personal finance, starting next year. Currently, Magaziner said, most schools in Rhode Island already offer personal finance as a stand-alone course, or as part of another course.
What the state doesn’t require is for students to take the course. Thirty-six states, Magaziner said, require students to take a financial literacy course. Under the legislation “every student” in Rhode Island will be required to take a financial literacy course. That becomes effective in three years.
“Rhode Island should join the other 36 states that do this,” Magaziner said.
The legislation also requires the Rhode Island Department of Education to have resources available to teachers that teach personal financial literacy.
Champlain College’s Center for Financial Literacy gave top rankings to five states – Alabama, Missouri, Tennessee, Utah and Virginia. Each of these states requires at least a half year personal finance course, or the equivalent, to graduate. According to a story in the New York Times, the courses “cover topics like using credit safely, saving for retirement, investing and navigating the financial decisions that typically occur in a person’s lifetime.”
The WalletHub survey ranked Rhode Island 42nd, well behind every other New England state. New Hampshire ranks first, Maine ranks seventh, Vermont 25th, Massachusetts 27th, and Connecticut 28th.
“In order to find the states with the best financial literacy, WalletHub analyzed financial-education programs and consumer habits — combined with the results of WalletHub’s proprietary WalletLiteracy Survey — in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia,” WalletHub said. “Our data set of 15 key metrics ranges from high-school financial literacy grade to share of adults with rainy-day funds. Read on for the results, insight from a panel of experts and a complete description of our methodology.”