Roughly half of the US requires financial literacy topics to be offered in schools, whether through a standalone course on the subject or combined with another course. While schools in these states must offer personal finance instruction to students, in theory, the consistency and accessibility of this type of education are hazy in practice.
In states that do not offer standards for teaching personal finance—or do not require schools to implement those standards—questions of what is being taught, and how extensively, are left to individual teachers and districts.
Additionally, some states call for financial literacy education to be integrated into existing courses. Personal finance topics are often tucked into subjects like math, civics, and social studies. But without designated curricula or designated teachers trained for financial literacy, these topics can seem like an afterthought.
In New York state, students are required to take a half-credit economics course to graduate. While some of the topics covered in this course are related to personal finance, it does not put an emphasis on topics like budgeting or building credit. Instead, it focuses on economic concepts more broadly. Currently, there are efforts to create a required standalone personal finance course.