Expanding Educational Standards: The World of Personal Finance


Steven Yon

The potential future benefits that Personal Finance can provide for students.

Jonah Orroth and Steven Yon

For the majority of schools, the fundamentals of education are taught from Pre-K through senior year of high school: English, Science, Maths, Social Studies, and Global Languages. Only 21 states make Personal Finance a requirement to graduate high school as a standalone course and integrated into another course like Math. Although some may not consider Personal Finance as a fundamental of education, it’s one of the very few courses that teach you the foundations in life regarding finance. 

With only six states requiring Personal Finance as a standalone class, Mr. Mabbot, the Personal Finance teacher at Ipswich High School for the past four years, believes Personal Finance should be a graduation requirement for Massachusetts. He explains, “Too many young people take out massive amounts of student debt without knowing exactly what they are signing up for, and how it is going to affect their future. Also, post-college, people don’t know much about basic financial topics.”

Topics that are covered in Personal Finance include the importance of saving, payroll, taxes, budgeting, banking, paying for college, managing credit, types of loans, identity theft, insurance, investing basics, and retirement.

As Personal Finance continues to be an unrequired course, other courses should take on the responsibility of what can be taught in Personal Finance. Alphonso Lopez, an Ipswich High School alumni, tells us that “Math should incorporate some concepts from Personal Finance into their curriculum since Personal Finance is considered as a Math elective” as the course continues to be deemed unstandardized.

For the length of time needed to cover the course material, some high schools throughout the United States offer Personal Finance as a one-semester course or longer. Ann Carns of the New York Times, Tim Ranzetta of NGPF, and Mr. Mabbot all agree on the fact that one-semester of Personal Finance is the “Golden Standard.” 

Mr. Mabbot adds that “If it is something that is interesting to a particular student, then they could take finance courses at college. A semester is enough to cover the basics in enough detail, but not to turn the course into a chore.” There are more or less 12 units that are covered in Personal Finance. 

The importance of the material learned in Personal Finance doesn’t just benefit the students, it can help benefit others, whether that may be your friends or family. It doesn’t just benefit one socioeconomic class, but all of them. 

“All the parts of the curriculum are important. I think realizing how much Personal Finance can affect our lives is the most important – like having a good credit score means you get better loan rates. Or that starting saving for retirement in your 20s will help you so much due to compound interest” states Mr. Mabbot. Learning financial responsibility for what’s ahead is limitless and continues to prove beneficial for those who have taken the course.

Of those who have taken Personal Finance, students have learned to make better financial decisions in life and been introduced to investing. Alphonso explains the changes that he has noticed after taking Personal Finance. “Some changes that I noticed after taking Personal Finance was planning for my retirement account. That was the biggest thing I took away from the class.” To add on, people can lose around $830,000 for waiting 10 years later to invest in their retirement.

A required one-semester Personal Finance course should be implemented in every U.S. state. Besides reaching the “Golden Standard,” students will learn crucial real-world knowledge that will help them navigate real-world scenarios. Besides, it will help improve students in the future.