New York Considers Requiring Personal Finance Education for High School Students

New York Considers Requiring Personal Finance Education for High School Students

State Comptroller’s Office urges Board of Regents to make personal finance instruction a requirement for a New York high school diploma.

The state comptroller’s office in New York is pushing for a significant change in the education system, advocating for personal finance education to be a mandatory requirement for high school students. The Board of Regents, responsible for setting education policy, recently heard from representatives of State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, who has been a vocal proponent of including personal finance instruction in the curriculum. This proposal comes as part of a broader effort to enhance financial literacy among young people and equip them with the necessary skills to make informed financial decisions.

Growing Recognition of the Importance of Financial Literacy

The state advisory commission on graduation requirements recommended in November that the Board of Regents include personal finance instruction as part of the diploma credit requirements. This recommendation aligns with the findings of a study that revealed high school students who received personal finance education had lower debt, better mortgage terms, and healthier savings. Currently, only 23 schools in New York require a personal finance class for graduation, highlighting the need for a comprehensive approach to financial literacy education.

The Need for Change

Maria Smith, the comptroller’s director of financial literacy and education outreach, emphasized the importance of equipping young people with financial skills. She noted that many students lack these essential skills and emphasized the need for change. A separate study conducted by Champlain College last year gave New York State a B grade for its existing financial planning instruction. While the state requires teaching financial concepts in high school economics, the limited time dedicated to the subject leaves room for improvement.

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Defining Financial Literacy

Smith outlined the key principles of financial literacy, which include earning, saving and investing, protecting, spending, and borrowing. She suggested that these concepts could be covered in a one-semester course. Currently, 17 states require students to take a stand-alone personal finance class to graduate, according to Next Gen Personal Finance, a nonprofit organization tracking state legislation. New York’s potential requirement would align with this national trend.

Success Stories and Support

During the discussion, Joseph Galante, assistant comptroller for strategic planning, highlighted the efforts of the Westbury school district, which partnered with a nonprofit organization to implement personal finance education. The district received free curriculum, teacher development, and a grant to support the initiative. Several members of the Board of Regents expressed their support for adding personal finance as a graduation requirement. Roger Tilles, the board’s representative for Long Island, anticipated formal action within a few months, emphasizing the necessity of financial literacy education.


The push for personal finance education to become a requirement for high school graduation in New York reflects a growing recognition of the importance of financial literacy. State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, the Board of Regents, and various stakeholders all emphasize the need to equip young people with the skills necessary to navigate their financial futures successfully. By incorporating personal finance instruction into the curriculum, New York aims to empower students to make informed financial decisions, ultimately improving their quality of life and providing them with peace of mind.