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New Law Requires Florida High School Students to Take Financial Literacy Course

TAMPA, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) - Florida education officials are reacting after the state just became the largest to mandate financial literacy courses in high school. Students will be required to take a personal finance course in order to graduate. The law will be effective for the 2023 and 2024 school year.

"There's no doubt that financial education is a critical life skill for students," said Kim Jowell, CEO of the Hillsborough Education Foundation. Our mission is about strengthening public education."

Now Florida law, Senate Bill 1054 will require high school students to take a half-credit course in personal finance before graduating.

"There's definitely a need," said Jowell.

The bill passed unanimously Tuesday. Governor DeSantis says the bill will help teach students about the basics of money management, debt, and the fundamentals of investing.

"A lot of students don't understand student loans. I know as a young girl, I saw something about insurance and, this too, I wish I had had that earlier," she added. "Knowing how to open up a checking account is something more than maybe some of our students know."

According to the Florida Education Association, there are more than 4,000 teaching vacancies across the state. That number is expected to reach 9,000 by August.

FEA President Andrew Spar said in a statement Thursday in part, "What's most important is that there are qualified, experienced teachers to teach our students. Yet, DeSantis and the Legislature didn't address that issue at all during session. In fact, by focusing much of their education agenda on divisive issues to further their personal political ambitions, they actually are making the teacher shortage worse."

The Hillsborough Education Foundation also educates students on financial literacy.

"We'll continue to focus on it too because it's that important," said Jowell. They too are working to fill the gap by hiring more mentors. "This required financial literacy course will provide that much-needed education so that the students make financially responsible decisions as early as possible. The Hillsborough Education Foundation relies on the relationships and support of our community and our schools need that as well."

The HEF is now accepting applications from current 7th and 8th grade students to enter their mentoring program this fall.

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