Indiana Schools Get ‘C’ in Teaching Personal Finance

High schools in the state of Indiana earned a C Tuesday (12/12) for teaching personal finance. The grade was in “Is Your State Making the Grade?  The 2017 Report Card on State Efforts to Improve Financial Literacy in High Schools.”

The report card, prepared by Champlain College’s Center for Financial Literacy, grades each of the 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia on how well their high schools teach personal finance. The 2017 report card is the third done by the center, with previous reports cards in 2015 and 2013.

Indiana joins Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon and Washington in receiving a C grade.  Missouri, Tennessee and Virginia earned an A grade, and Utah was the only state to receive an A+.

John Pelletier, director of the Champlain College center, says that in Indiana and the other C states guidelines suggest that personal finance be taught to all students, but it is up to each school district to implement them. He says that Indiana has a financial literacy education standard, but it is not clear how the state monitors local school district implementation of this requirement.

Pelletier notes that research from Next Gen Personal Finance indicates that students from wealthy communities are much more likely to have access to personal finance education in high school than students in poor communities. “The poor should have equal access to personal finance education in high school—it shouldn’t be for just the rich,” he says. “But access is only possible if a state policy requires it.”

The original Champlain 2013 and 2015 report cards generated widespread media attention, but more important, discussion among state legislatures, citizens and organizations committed to improving financial literacy in America.

“We are pleased with incremental improvements in many states, but states with C or lower grades like Indiana have to do better,” Pelletier says. “High school graduates are about to step into the world of work, military service or college, and they need to have the financial skills to navigate a complex world. We hope this report card will spur even more improvement across the country.”

Pelletier points to studies that show financial literacy is linked to positive outcomes like wealth accumulation, stock market participation, retirement planning, and avoiding high-cost alternative financial services like payday lending and auto title loans.

In addition to compiling data from various sources, Champlain’s center conducted in-depth research on each state’s policies regarding the teaching of high school personal finance. The center reviewed state laws and regulations, graduation requirements, educational standards and assessment policies, and clarified questions in discussions with state education policy experts.

For more details on Indiana and other states, see full report.

Champlain College’s Center for Financial Literacy, a partnership among several financial institutions, non-profit entities and governmental agencies, promotes and develops financial literacy skills in K-12 students, college students, teachers (K-12 and college) and adults. The Center is an advocate for financial education opportunities at the local, state and national level. The Center has launched a variety of programs aimed at increasing the personal finance sophistication of Americans.

Founded in 1878, Champlain College is one of the few colleges in America that require personal finance education for graduation.

A small private college overlooking Lake Champlain and Burlington, Vermont, with additional campuses in Montreal and Dublin, Champlain’s career-driven approach to higher education prepares students for professional life from their very first semester. Recognized by U.S. News & World Report as an innovative school, it is listed among The Princeton Review’s “The Best 382 Colleges” in 2018 and is featured in the 2018 Fiske Guide to Colleges as one of the “best and most interesting schools” in the United States, Canada and Great Britain.