PENNSYLVANIA (WHTM) — When you were a young adult, did anyone ever sit down with you to explain the basics of personal finance? For many of us, the answer is no. That is why a local state senator wants high schoolers to take a personal finance course.
“I came from a household where we discussed these types of topics, we discussed how to save money, discussed how credit cards work,” Senator Chris Gebhard (R-Lebanon, Berks, Lancaster) said. “Most young adults don’t get any of this information and they learn these topics normally by making mistakes and they learn from their mistakes.”
However, not everyone has those conversations. Senator Chris Gebhard wants to change that with Senate Bill 6-47. This bill will implement a personal finance course in high school, to cover topics every student will face eventually.
“Every student in Pennsylvania, whether you’re in public or private school would be required to take a half-credit course in order to graduate,” Senator Gebhard said. “(Things like) credit cards, credit score, how to get a car loan, how to get a mortgage.”
If passed, the requirement would take effect in the 2025-2026 school year, and give control at the district level.
“We’ve really kind of put the guardrails up in terms of what the curriculum should look like, so it’s a pretty broad base definition,” Senator Gebhart said. “We wanted to give them some of the ability to design a lot of it,” he added.
While the lessons and curriculum are there, are the teachers?
“One of the things we were very mindful of is the teacher shortage we are currently facing here in Pennsylvania. We have a pretty broad breadth of who is going to be qualified to teach this course. It can be taught by math teachers, social studies teachers, if they have a business teacher, obviously they can teach it,” Senator Gebhard said.
Alex Langan is a personal financial planner who has taught college students.
“This is an essential skill that everyone needs to know, (and) by that point in time, people can already find themself in a hole. At some point in time, you’re going to have to deal with money, you’re going to have to budget, you’re going to have to buy a car, maybe take out a mortgage for a house.” Langan said.
“Whether they’re going to go to a four-year degree, go to trade school, whether they’re going to go right into the workforce, they’ll have gotten this information and they’ll be able to use it the rest of their lives,” Senator Gebhard said.
The Department of Education says that it is pleased to see a bipartisan agreement on this, and said it looks forward to reviewing the legislation as it moves through the capital.
The Senate education committee passed the bill this week, and it now heads to the full Senate.