Florida’s new bill requires financial literacy classes to graduate from high school
TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A bill proposed in the Florida legislative session would require high school students to take an optional half-hour credit focused on financial literacy and money management to earn their diploma.
“WHEREAS many young people in this state graduate from high school without basic financial knowledge or money management skills,” HB 1115 would need training in these topics to help students prepare for life after education, “in light of nationwide economic challenges.”
The text in HB 1115 indicates that strong financial management skills are vitally important for all Floridians, but focuses on the needs of high school students in the state. The bill is named after a former legislator and is called the “Dorothy L. Hukill Financial Literacy Act”. Hukill was a former Volusia County state senator who died in 2018 of complications from cervical cancer. She was a former educator and lawyer.
The bill, if passed, would begin offering what it calls financial literacy standards for high school students starting in the ninth grade. The changes would take effect in the 2022 to 2023 school year and would require financial literacy courses in several areas.
Topics in the financial education program would cover how to open and manage a bank account and what types of accounts are offered, and how to assess the quality of a depository institution’s services.
Additionally, students would learn how to balance a checkbook, the basics of money management to include “expenses, credit, credit scores, and debt management, including retail debt and credit card”, how to complete a loan application, what it means to receive an inheritance and its implications, the basics of personal insurance policies, how to calculate federal income tax, local tax assessments, how to calculate interest rates, how to enter into “simple contracts”, how to dispute incorrect billing statements, the different types of savings and investment accounts, and a basic knowledge of federal finance laws and state.
If passed, legislative analysis indicates that the bill would reduce the number of elective courses required while maintaining the total number of credits needed to earn a degree. Current law requires high school students to take eight hours of electives. The bill, if passed, would change the choice requirement to seven and a half credits, but require the financial literacy program to count as a half credit so that the total credits remain unchanged.
The bill would also remove the option to substitute work-based learning program credits for financial literacy credits in the vocational and technical studies diploma path for obtaining a high school diploma.
HB 1115 and its complementary legislation Senate Bill 1054have already gained public support from state leaders.
“It is critical that we prepare Florida students for financial success and this legislation will ensure that vital financial literacy resources are available to students prior to graduation. Financial literacy is an important key to a strong financial future and learning the basics of credit, budgeting, saving and investing can better prepare students for a successful future,” said Jimmy Patronis, Chief Financial Officer of Florida, in a statement in part. “…These lessons are also essential for shaping future generations of Americans to appreciate the American capitalist system and to grow our nation’s pool of entrepreneurs.”
The CFO’s office said the legislation would help students succeed in and out of the classroom. So far, versions of the bill in each house have passed their committee hearings, the last of which was at House Appropriations Subcommittee PreK-12.