by Scott McClallen
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed a bipartisan bill requiring Michigan high schoolers to take a financial literacy class before graduating.
“As a mom, I want every kid who graduates in Michigan to enter the world with a diverse set of skills and knowledge, and that must include financial literacy,” Whitmer said in a statement. “I am proud to sign this bipartisan bill requiring all public school students to take a personal finance course. Every young Michigander deserves to know how to budget, save, and invest their money wisely so they can get off a great start after high school, whether they go to college, start working, or open a small business.”
The personal finance requirement will fulfill a half credit of the four-credit mathematics requirement; the two-credit language other than English requirement; or the one-credit visual, performing, or applied arts requirement.
The bill follows a poll from the National Endowment for Financial Education that showed 88% of American adults backed requiring personal finance instruction as a high school graduation requirement.
“Personal finance education will serve as a launchpad for Michigan graduates lifting off into adulthood, so they won’t be caught off guard by the financial decisions that await them,” bill sponsor Rep. Diana Farrington, R-Utica, said in a statement.
“The course will teach students how to manage their finances. They’ll be prepared to make smart, everyday budget choices — and equipped to handle the challenges that come their way. Establishing a core class dedicated to financial literacy has been a years-long labor of love for me, and I’m truly excited for the students who will fly to new heights through a fuller, richer education.”
House Bill 5190 will activate with ninth-graders starting in 2024.
The requirement aims to warn high schoolers before making life-changing financial mistakes, such as signing six figures of student loan debt for a useless degree or buying a house or brand-new vehicle they can’t afford.
“Financial education is critical to the success of Michiganders through every stage of life,” Anita Fox, the director of the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services, said in a statement. “You can’t start a family or start a business without thinking about financial services, including how to manage your money, how to take out a loan for a car or home, and how to save for retirement and the unexpected. This bill will help ensure our state gives students the foundation they need to achieve their personal and professional goals.”
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Scott McClallen is a staff writer covering Michigan and Minnesota for The Center Square. A graduate of Hillsdale College, his work has appeared on Forbes.com and FEE.org. Previously, he worked as a financial analyst at Pepsi.