Bill would require a financial literacy class for graduation

A bill that would help high school students learn money management skills has passed through the Arizona State Senate.

Senate Bill 1184, proposed by Arizona state Senator Sylvia Allen (LD-6), establishes personal finance as a requirement for high school graduation.

When I was in high school there was some time given in one of the classes I was in about these different subjects and…I really appreciated it,” Allen said. “When I opened my first checking account, I knew how to balance it. It’s just practical information that you need for life.”

If passed, all Arizona high school students would be required to take a semester of economics that includes a section on financial literacy and personal finance management.

“It’s important that students are taught the essentials of personal finance, like balancing their checkbooks and understanding credit, before entering the real world,” Treasurer Kimberly Yee (R-AZ), who originally drafted the bill, said. “One in eight Millennials have debts in collections. This bill will give students the critical, basic life skills to manage their money and have the financial freedom to accomplish anything after graduation.”

The course would teach high schoolers things such as how to avoid the “credit card trap,” balance a checking account, budget spending, setting up a savings account for emergencies and managing debt.

It’s a common-sense bill to teach our kids some common-sense skills,” Allen said. “Our young people are in a great amount of debt with student loans and they need to stop and think about those things [which will] be discussed in this class. I think it’ll really benefit our young people.”

The bill has received support from the Girl Scouts of Arizona, the Arizona Association of County School Superintendents, Arizona Bankers Association, Arizona Association of School Business Officials, as well as the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Greater Phoenix Chamber and Tucson Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce.  

“I’ve been selling cookies and doing everything that Girl Scouts has had to offer for a very long time. Girl Scouts does provide a lot of financial based patches and things I can work on, but those things really only scratch on the surface of things I would need when I go into college,” said 14-year-old Girl Scout Gina Ferroni at the Senate Education Committee hearing.  “I feel like if there was a course around it, it would be able to get more in-depth on how to do and why we are doing it.”

The bill was transferred to the Arizona House of Representatives for consideration.

According to the Arizona Office of the State Treasurer, this is the first of many financial literacy initiatives that will be released under Treasurer Yee.

Emily Richardson

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