Are High School Students Adequately Prepared to Manage Money as Adults?

Are High School Students Adequately Prepared to Manage Money as Adults?

December 13, 2017         Written By Bill Hardekopf

The average high school senior is 17-18 years old, entering the earliest stages of adulthood. While many of these students will remain in their parents homes for several years, others will venture into the world as soon as they graduate.

This brings up an important question: are high schools in America preparing students to manage money as adults? According to a new study from Champlain College’s Center for Financial Literacy, there is plenty of room for improvement.

Each of the 50 states and Washington D.C. were graded on high school personal finance education, and less than half were awarded an A or B. In fact, only five states earned an A rating.

The study assessed how readily available personal finance is for high school students. In the states with an A rating (Utah, Missouri, Alabama, Tennessee and Virginia), personal finance was a requirement for high school graduation. States with a B rating required courses related to personal finance for high school graduation, but the subjects were slightly broader, such as economics or civics.

Most states with C and D ratings had personal finance courses available to students or offered financial literacy training as part of other academics. Local school districts determine how that teaching element is integrated into their curriculum. States with an F rating, which included such states as California, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Connecticut, had little to no personal finance education available to high school students.

Budgeting, money management, and other personal finance skills are essential for day-to-day life. By learning how to save money and control their spending habits, high school students can avoid substantial debt in their early adulthood.

Many credit card companies prey on high school graduates and college students because they have fresh credit scores and a high desire to spend money. Simply put, they are easy targets. The CARD Act of 2009 established new rules for college credit cards to ensure the terms of agreement were transparent and easy to understand. College credit card agreements subsequently dropped by 70%, but companies still found some ways to convince young adults to sign up for credit lines.

If you are a parent of a high school student, teach your children about money management as early as possible. Whether you live in a state with excellent personal finance education or a state with limited access to these courses, your child will benefit from learning this information at home. If your child receives an allowance, teach him or her to set aside a portion of that money for savings and to buy necessities. Then whatever is left over can be for personal spending. Parents can put the money on a prepaid card that can be tracked with an app. Learning these habits now will prepare them for managing money as an adult, and will help them steer clear of debt.

The information contained within this article was accurate as of December 13, 2017. For up-to-date
information on any of the terms, cards or offers mentioned above, visit the issuer's website.


About Bill Hardekopf

Bill Hardekopf is the CEO of and covers the credit card industry from all perspectives. Bill has been involved with personal finance for over 15 years. He is a frequent contributor to Forbes, The Street and The Christian Science Monitor.
View all posts by Bill Hardekopf
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