Should We Require Financial Literacy in High School?

Should We Require Financial Literacy in High School?
The Siliconreview
25 Febuary, 2022

High school should be about preparing young people for adulthood. Unfortunately, almost 90% of high school seniors graduate leave without understanding the basics of money.

The Current State of High School Financial Literacy

A 2014 survey by the U.S. government found that only 18% of 15-year-olds know how to perform essential daily financial management. For example, they don't know how to write a check, open a bank account, devise a budget, comparison shop, or even save money.

Economic Knowledge Is Lacking

Indeed, it's common knowledge that most states and school districts do not provide anything substantial about economics until high school if they do at all. This means kids don't understand the laws of supply and demand or how inflation and deflation work. Only 27% of high school seniors understand inflation.

What's more, once they graduate, they don't know how to apply for a credit card, an apartment, or what to look for when buying a car.

Lack of Understanding Leads to Poor Decisions

All of this translates to making poor financial decisions throughout adulthood and landing in a mountain of insurmountable debt. What's more, they become prime targets for predatory lenders.


How Children Can Benefit From Financial Literacy

In an ideal world, financial literacy should begin right when children learn to count. This means they should learn it both at school and home. However, parents and teachers shouldn't force money know-how on children. Instead, it should be a cumulative and gradual process.

It should encompass age-appropriate things yet be challenging enough to promote problem-solving skills. For instance, the average toddler should learn to count to ten by the age of two.

Suggestions for Toddlers

When toddlers have a solid grasp of counting, using various objects exposes them to different concepts. Therefore, you could use one-dollar bills or pennies that will encompass their ability to count to 10. Once they master that, they can push it to 15, then 20, and so on.

Recommendations for Teenagers

Teenagers should have a basic understanding that money pays for goods and services. Here is a reasonable growth progression through financial literacy and economic principles:

  • Freshmen should understand what it means to make a budget and compare what "needs" are versus what "wants" are.
  • Sophomores should learn how to open a bank account, write a check, balance a checkbook, and save money.
  • When they get to their junior and senior years, teens should have a solid understanding of the laws of economics and how to apply for a loan, a job, a credit card, etc. They should also know how to fill out, file, and complete a tax return.

While all of these are merely suggestions, they're basic yet important things, and American teens frequently fall short in their financial knowledge.

How Financial Literacy Will Benefit Minors

There are endless benefits to minors learning the basics of financial literacy. First, it will make them inherently more intelligent. They will understand what it means to earn, save, and invest money while also locating the best prices for goods and services.

These lessons will eventually lead to a more fulfilling life because they won't struggle to get their next meal every day. It will mitigate the hardship of living paycheck to paycheck.

Plus, it will teach kids to understand that it's better to buy a pound of ground beef for the same price as it costs to get a cheeseburger from a fast-food restaurant.

US Teens Rank 7th in the World

What's more, in 2015, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) performed an international literacy test with 15-year-olds from 15 different countries. The United States ranked 7th, after China, Canada, Russia, and Australia.

Not only will making teenagers financially literate help them help themselves, but it will also make them more competitive on the world stage.


High school students must learn about financial literacy, at the very least. It would be better if they learned about money at a much younger age. It will help them throughout their adult lives and make them more intelligent with their financial decisions. Teaching financial literacy in high school can never be a bad thing.