Personal financial literacy class now a requirement for graduation in PA

20 December 2023- After much pushing, Governor Josh Shapiro has signed a requirement that all public school students in Pennsylvania take a financial literacy class prior to graduation. That means that personal finance will be taught to every student in order to graduate.

“It has long been a goal of mine to have financial literacy taught in our public schools,” Auditor General DeFoor said. “I want to congratulate Sen. Chris Gebhard for championing this legislation and getting it across the finish line. Knowing how to Be Money Smart is one of the best lessons a student can learn to set themselves up for future financial success.”

Act 35 of 2023 requires all public schools to teach a half a credit of personal financial literacy for high school students starting with the 2026-2027 school year.

“In today’s ever-changing landscape, it is crucial that young people enter the world prepared for all facets of daily life, most especially the financial realities of adulthood,” Kasey Roberts, Pennsylvania YMCA Youth and Government Program Director said. “YMCAs across Pennsylvania serve young people every day and we are grateful that this issue has been recognized and addressed by our elected officials. We welcome the opportunities this will provide teens across the Commonwealth and look forward to the continued progress towards our common goal.”

“An alarming number of our high school students are currently entering adulthood and the workforce without an appropriate knowledge of basic financial concepts,” Senator Chris Gebhard, the author of Act 35, said in a statement after the signing. “I want them to have the best foundation possible as they start their own lives – far too often, the financial decisions our younger generations are making have led to unintended consequences that have put them at an economic disadvantage later in life.”

The legislation also directs the Department of Education to develop a curriculum for the class, working with organizations specializing in financial literacy education.

“Our commitment to equipping schools with everything they need to provide high-quality financial education to students is unwavering,” Kerry Woodward, Philadelphia Financial Scholars Executive Director, said. “We are ready to continue to deliver and bring simulation-rich curriculum and paid professional development to support teachers in delivering financial empowerment education to students.”

DeFoor has spent the last two years promoting financial literacy across the state as part of his Be Money Smart initiative. Since the initiative launched in 2021, DeFoor has:

  • Completed a statewide financial literacy tour to raise awareness about the need for financial literacy legislation in Pennsylvania;
  • Visited all state and state related universities in Pennsylvania to talk about job and internship opportunities within the department and the importance of knowing how your money works;
  • Met with students participating in the State YMCA of Pennsylvania Youth and Government program and visited several YMCAs across the state to talk about financial literacy;
  • Worked with Junior Achievement to emphasize financial literacy messages to elementary school students;
  • Partnered with local financial institutions to provide financial literacy resources to the public; and
  • Partnered with Harrisburg University of Science and Technology and Members 1st to coordinate a statewide financial literacy competition for high school students in Pennsylvania.