High Schools Should Teach Personal Finances, But for Now, 9 Free Courses


Personal finance should be required in high school, says a former state board of education President who argues “managing money” is a skill students need before entering the workforce, but for now, here are nine free courses.

So you know calculus, but can you give change or balance a checkbook?

Debbie Critchfield is the former Idaho State Board of Education President and a Republican candidate for the state superintendent of public instruction. She recently wrote an article for the Idaho education news website declaring that “personal finance should be required in high school.”

She is certainly far from the first to make such a statement, but she is one with the experience and platform to bring broader attention to the matter.

“I want to lead and champion the work to close the skills gap and set the vision for our students for the 21st century,” Critchfield says.

Practical skills of everyday life can’t be ignored: Indispensable for the future

Critchfield pointed out a glaring contradiction. Students may have the mathematics skills to “do calculus,” but they don’t have the seemingly more basic mathematical skills of counting back change or “balancing their checking account.”

“With the online banking world upon us, non-traditional understanding ways of managing money is indispensable for the future,” Critchfield points out.

Financial understanding needed before entering the workforce

“Our kids need to be taught how taxes, health insurance, credit scores, interest, and loans work, among other important financial skills,” Critchfield says. “The time to learn about retirement plans should be before our students enter the workforce, not when they realize they need one several years into their careers.”

Schools can look to other examples to develop curriculums

Critchfield advocates schools look toward the many examples of high-quality programs around the nation where financial education is part of the curriculum. She says state partners are offering quality financial curriculums for free.

Financial literacy should be a graduation requirement

Not only does Critchfield advocate that personal finance be taught in high schools, but she believes financial literacy should be a graduation requirement.

Free online courses: How to help your child (or yourself) with personal finance education

If the school your child attends does not have financial education, there are a number of online courses available free.

Here are nine worthwhile online personal finance courses your child, you, or anyone can take for free:

· Brigham Young University’s personal finance courses. (FREE)

· Purdue University’s Planning for a Secure Retirement. (FREE)

· Duke University’s Behavioral Finance Course. (FREE, without certification)

· The University of Illinois—Urbana-Champaign’s Financial Planning for Young Adults. (FREE, without certification)

· Alison.com’s Financial Literacy Course. (FREE)

· Smart About Money courses. (FREE)

· Money Skills. (FREE)

· Khan Academy’s personal finance classes. (FREE)

· Personal Finance by Missouri State University. (FREE)