Alabama students could be forced to learn financial literacy

Alabama high school students could be required to learn about and take a test about financial literacy, if a bipartisan group of state lawmakers get their way.

Rep. Andy Whitt, R-Harvest, presented HB164 to the House Education Policy Committee Wednesday, telling members that as a community banker for the past 30 years, he has seen a decline in people who understand the basics of personal finance.

Whitt, who said he worked with State Treasurer Young Boozer and Superintendent Eric Mackey on the bill, proposes that students learn about:

  • The types of bank accounts available and how to open and manage their own account,
  • How to balance a checking account,
  • How to manage credit cards and debt,
  • How to evaluate different types of loans,
  • The types of insurance policies,
  • How taxes work,
  • How to calculate interest rates,
  • Types of contracts,
  • Types of saving and investment tools.

Alabama high school students already have to take a career preparedness course.

Under the new law, financial literacy information and a test to assess knowledge would be added to that course. Students would not have to pass the test.

The committee voted unanimously to send the bill to the full House of Representatives for consideration. It would still need to pass the Senate and be signed by the Governor prior to becoming law. The new standards would be required to be taught beginning with students in the ninth grade at the start of the 2024-25 school year.

Alabama dropped the high school graduation exam in 2014, but students must pass a civics test in order to graduate. Students must also complete the FAFSA, a form to determine how much financial aid a student could qualify for, unless a parent chooses to opt out.

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