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Idaho bill fills a financial education gap for high school students

A school table with several stacks of coins, a cup of pencils, and a graduation cap sitting on two standing books, with a math-covered chalkboard in the background
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More states are implementing financial literacy courses in high school.

Learning how to manage your finances is an important skill, but one educators believe many young people lack.

A bill in the Idaho Legislature would work to fix it with financial literacy courses for high school students.

Todd Christensen, chief marketing officer for CapEd Credit Union, which has branches in the Treasure Valley and Magic Valley and works to teach young people about finances, said research shows they lack knowledge of many basic money management principles.

"Recent surveys indicated that over 82% of high school seniors felt as though they didn't receive enough information to be prepared around financial literacy," Christensen reported. "Checking accounts, saving accounts, debit cards, credit cards."

The legislation passed the House unanimously this week and has moved on to the Senate. It would require high schools to provide one or more courses in personal financial literacy. Idaho Superintendent of Public Instruction Debbie Critchfield is among the bill's supporters.

Christensen noted money management skills are important like other skills people learn in school.

"We talk a lot about emotional intelligence," Christensen pointed out. "In this case, it's financial intelligence of how do you earn money and how do you best expend that money?"

Idaho's credit unions provided nearly 3,800 hours of free financial education to students and adults in 2021.