PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — Governor Ron DeSantis recently signed into law a requirement for high school students to take a financial literacy course before graduating. Some schools in the Tampa Bay area are already ahead of the state.
Schools like Northeast High School in St. Petersburg have been teaching the value of money and finances to students for years.
“Financial literacy, it’s something that you’re going to carry out throughout your whole life and college,” said Victoria Aguilera, an eleventh grader. “I think it’s a really good opportunity to allow other kids to have that and not just the finance kids.”
Northeast High has been a leader in financial literacy since opening its own on-campus Viking Branch as part of a joint venture with Achieva Credit Union in 2003. The Viking Branch is run by students in the school’s Academy of Finance.
Soon, ninth-graders entering Northeast High School in the 2022-2023 school year will be offered a financial literacy course, one year earlier than required.
“The curriculum is really looking at and looking towards being financially fit and financially literate, “ said Kem Mosley, a teacher in the Academy of Finance at Northeast High School. “Understanding what the different account types are, what your opportunities are with money, how to balance a checkbook, heck, how to even write a check because a lot of people, lot of adults these days still don’t even know how to properly write a check.”
The legislation DeSantis signed last week will officially become a graduation requirement for students who enter high school in the 2023-2024 school year and will not affect students currently enrolled in high school.
“If you don’t know how to manage money as a young person, you’re not really going to know how to do it as an adult,” said Mosley. “If education is geared towards preparing students for the future, which one of our missions is preparing students for college and career, we have to do that at this level and get them in preparation for what’s to come.”
Teachers and students both said there is a need to learn these life skills at a young age.
“I think it’s great. You use the skill throughout your whole life, not just if you go into a finance major,” said Nicholas Crooks, an eleventh grader. “Just the ability to budget, take loans, and all that great stuff just helps you in the long run.”
“In my opinion, it’s one of the most important things you will learn because it sets you up for the future,” said Amelia Osburn, a tenth grader. “If you don’t know how to manage your finances, handle your money, you might make some poor positions that could put you in poor places with your finances.”
According to the Governor's Office, students will be required to earn one-half credit in personal financial literacy and money management, including instruction on types of bank accounts, credit scores, taxes, and managing debt.