Will Michigan Be the Next State to Mandate Personal Finance in Education?



More states are adding personal finance courses to their mandated high school curricula, with Florida being the latest, and the largest, to pass legislation. If the subject of personal finance in high school seems like a familiar concept – it is. Forbes reports that as of 2018, 43 states have laws recommending the inclusion of personal finance courses in high school education, however, most of the materials regarding the subject are taught as a supplement to another course, such as economics. Even so, these materials are often, unfortunately, cast aside due to overcrowded curriculum1.

Of those 43 states, only seven mandate personal finance be taught as a standalone course to ensure students the opportunity to build a foundation of finance concepts. According to CNBC, the 2020 biannual Council for Economic Education Survey of the State demonstrated that students required to take personal finance courses make better financial decisions across the board, on critical, early financial situations, including how they pay for college. Further, credit card debt and payday loans were also less prevalent2.   

This is among one of the many reasons Michigan Representative Diana Farrington (R- Utica) has proposed legislation that would require a personal finance course as a part of the Michigan high school curriculum. Now, her goal is very close to being realized. She introduced and passed House Bill 5190 in the Michigan House of Representatives at the end of 2021; currently, that legislation is awaiting its day in the sun with the Senate Committee on Education and Career Readiness.

“Report cards are in, and sixty-six percent of states have earned a C grade or worse in personal finance education,” Rep. Farrington recites the latest report from CNBC. “The average American has over $90,000 of debt, credit card debt is over $860 billion, student loan debt is over $1.6 trillion, one in four Americans have no retirement savings, and six of 10 cannot afford an emergency expense between $500 and $1000.”

These sound like general statistics regarding the financial situation of Americans but taken alongside the fact that nearly half of Americans are considered financially illiterate, these statistics paint an interesting picture. One that seems to indicate that education is, at the very least, a factor that has gone too long ignored. Does having knowledge necessarily mean that credit debt and financial risks taken by consumers will come to an abrupt end? Of course not, but Rep. Farrington argues the foundations are tools to which Michiganders, young and old, should have access. “Our financial world, our economy hasn’t gotten any easier to navigate. I don’t want to feed our young people out into the world without education on financial issues.”

Change could well be on the horizon, as Rep. Farrington hopes to see HB 5190 heard in the Senate sometime in early May of this year. “I’ve been doing a lot of work and interviews to push the issue as much as possible and it has some great traction right now, especially with Florida having just passed its own legislation.”

“Personal finance and financial education are crucial to the success of every young person in our state.” She adds, “It’s building a set of skills that they will use daily for the rest of their lives. House Bill 5190 would finally guarantee students in Michigan have an opportunity to receive a financial education.”

Are you interested in driving financial literacy forward? Find out how you can make a difference as a member of the MICPA Financial Literacy Task Force

  1. Smith, Kelly Anne. “These States Now Require Students to Learn…Forbes. 1 Apr. 2022. Accessed 14 Apr. 2022.
  2. Rosenbaum, Eric. “How Each U.S. State is Shaping the Personal Finance IQ…CNBC. 5 Feb. 2020. Accessed 14 Apr. 2022. 

Source: MICPA

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