INDIANAPOLIS – Under a new state law, Hoosier high school students will need to pass a financial literacy course to graduate.
Under Senate Enrolled Act 35, the requirement will start with the class of 2028. That means schools will have to make some changes since many only offer the class as an elective right now.
“I’ve worked with multiple generations of people – I see the level of knowledge kind of decreasing,” said State Sen. Mike Gaskill, (R-Pendleton), who introduced the legislation.
Gaskill works in the financial services industry.
“If you don’t have the knowledge that you need, it’s easy for others to take advantage of you and not do what’s best for you,” he said.
The class will cover several topics, such as filing taxes, managing debt and saving for retirement.
“I felt that there was enough material to justify being a standalone course, and I wanted to emphasize the importance,” Gaskill said.
The law allows the course to count toward other graduation requirements, such as math, for some students.
Now schools need to start preparing for all of their students to take the class.
“I feel like it’s very much needed,” said Jarrod Mason, principal at Hamilton Heights High School. “It’s just how are we going to make that happen? Because for some people, it’s going to be pretty easy. And for others, it’s going to be really difficult.”
Schools like his will have to consider the textbooks and other materials needed, along with teaching staff, he said.
Lawmakers did increase K-12 tuition support in the new state budget but did not set aside funding specifically for the new course.
“We have a two-member business department right now,” Mason said. “We’ll have to look at how we add people to make that happen.”
Schools are still waiting for more guidance from state education officials, including how the course may be used to fulfill other graduation requirements.