By Sarah Ostergaard
If I had a nickel for each time someone said, “I wish my child could learn [enter personal finance term here] in school.” then I’d have a nice savings account started. All joking aside, starting with the graduating class of 2027, students in SC will be required to take a half-credit course in personal finance in order to graduate from a SC high school.
The state legislature implemented this change by way of a provision in the 2022-2023 budget: Proviso 1.101. Proviso 1.101 directs the SC Department of Education to create a half credit Personal Finance course within the existing 24 credits required for a high school diploma. Thus, Proviso 1.101 does not increase the total number of credits needed for graduation but directs the Department of Education to replace half credit from another requirement. It is most likely, but not entirely settled, that this new course will replace a half credit elective requirement rather than a core subject area requirement (which are: English, Math, Science, Social Studies). The new course standards are being created to meet the needs of 9th and 10th grade students.
Some personal finance concepts are currently, and are likely to continue to be, incorporated into existing courses. Pedagogically, this is sound judgment since stacking concepts across subject areas and throughout grade levels solidifies a student’s knowledge in a subject area. For example, many of the Social Studies standards throughout the k12 curriculum include Financial Literacy skills and concepts such as choice, value, needs vs. wants, currency, budgets, etc. Specifically, the Economics and Personal Finance course – the “and Personal Finance” was added with the new Social Studies standards implemented in 2020 – includes application of personal finance concepts such as credit cards, household budgets, college vs. career training costs, investments, financial institutions, etc. This course is normally taken in the 12th grade here in LexRich5, although sometimes taught earlier elsewhere in the state.
The Social Studies standards for the Economics and Personal Finance course state that “the study of economics and personal finance provides a basis for students to develop the skills necessary to live and thrive financially in the 21st century, and participate in society as active and informed decision-makers.” The new half credit Personal Finance course standards are being developed within the Career & Technical Education subject area.
Right now we all see inflation and adjustments to interest rates, as well as news about GDP and foreign trade policy. How wonderful that our current students will graduate with an understanding of how those work (Economics). In the future, with the implementation of Proviso 1.101, students can also have an education in the application of economic concepts (Personal Finance). Interest rates are not just numbers on a poster in a bank — interest rates are set through monetary policy and affect the car loan, credit card, mortgage rate that a bank offers. Likewise, GDP and job growth are directly affected by fiscal policy; the wages earned by our students are a result of economic theories put into practice. Thus, our future adults can understand, and take charge of, their choices. Learning and understanding personal finance can have a real generational impact on South Carolinians of all socioeconomic backgrounds.
AND… if you are a teacher interested in learning more about how to incorporate personal finance concepts into your courses, please reach out to the SC Council on Economic Education, a.k.a. SC Economics. This nonprofit organization hosts informative, free professional development sessions for educators and implements the SC State Treasurer’s SC Financial Literacy Master Teacher program. For information at www.sceconomics.org.