TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A proposed bill in the Florida Legislative Session would require high school students to take a half-hour elective credit focused on financial literacy and money management to graduate.
“WHEREAS, many young people in this state graduate from high school without having basic financial literacy or money management skills,” HB 1115 would require training on these topics to assist students in preparing for life after education, “in light of economic challenges nationwide.”
HB 1115’s text said sound financial management skills are vitally important to all Floridians, but focuses on the needs of the state’s high school students. The bill is named after a former legislator, and is called the “Dorothy L. Hukill Financial Literacy Act.” Hukill was a former state senator from Volusia County who died in 2018 from complications due to cervical cancer. She was a former educator and lawyer.
The bill, if passed, would begin offering what it calls financial literacy standards for high schoolers starting in ninth grade. The changes would take effect in the 2022 to 2023 school year, and would require financial literacy instruction in multiple areas.
Topics for the financial education curriculum 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 basic principles of money management to include “spending, credit, credit scores and managing debt, including retail and credit card debt,” how to fill out a loan application, what it means to receive an inheritance and its related implications, the basic principles of personal insurance policies, how to calculate federal income taxes, local tax assessments, how to compute interest rates, how to engage in “simple contracts,” how to contest incorrect billing statements, the different types of savings and investment accounts, and basic knowledge of state and federal finance laws.
Should it pass, the legislative analysis said the bill would reduce the number of electives required while maintaining the total credits needed to graduate. Current law requires high school students to take eight hours of electives. The bill, if passed, would change the elective requirement to seven-and-a-half credits, but require the financial literacy curriculum count as a half-credit to keep the total credits unchanged.
The bill also would remove the option to substitute work-based learning program credits for financial literacy credits in the Career and Technical Education Graduation Pathway to earn a high school diploma.
HB 1115, and its companion legislation Senate Bill 1054, have already gotten public support from state leadership.
“It is critical we set Florida students up for financial success and this legislation will ensure vital financial literacy resources are available to students before graduation. Financial literacy is an important key to a strong financial future and learning the basics of credit, budgeting, savings, and investing, can further prepare students for a successful future,” Jimmy Patronis, Florida Chief Financial Officer, said in a statement in part. “…These lessons are also critical to training future generations of Americans to appreciate America’s capitalist system and grow our nation’s pool of entrepreneurs.”
The CFO’s office said the legislation would help set students up for success in and out of the classroom. So far, the versions of the bill in each chamber have passed their committee hearings, the latest of which was in the House PreK-12 Appropriations Subcommittee.