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Financial literacy for students

Should financial literacy classes be required in schools?

COVID-19 has caused financial problems for so many people around the world. And so it’s little wonder Google searches for “financial literacy” in the US has almost doubled since the start of the pandemic.

A related topic that’s also gaining traction is whether financial literacy classes should be mandatory for US students. And the results are in: Some 66.9% of American adults — or 170.6 million people — say they believe financial literacy classes should be required in school, according to a survey conducted by Finder.com. However, that leaves roughly a third — 33.1%, or 84.6 million American adults — who don’t think classes around financial literacy for kids are a good idea.

If the majority who think a financial literacy course should be taught in schools got their way, what class would they suggest removing from the curriculum? Responses were split, with 30.3% saying they’d remove PE or “Other.” And of those who selected “Other,” 20.9% wrote they wouldn’t cut any classes but would rather kids were taught financial literacy as part of an existing class.

Selection% of respondents that say financial literacy should be taught
Physical Education 30.3%
Math 16.1%
History 8.7%
English 7.9%
Science 4.6%
Elective 2.0%
Other 30.3%

Men and women put PE on the chopping block

Women are slightly more likely than men to embrace the idea of financial literacy programs being taught in schools, with 68.2% of women saying that financial literacy classes should be required compared to 65.8% of men.

The genders were split on their responses, with women more likely to say financial literacy should replace PE, “other” or an elective subject, whereas men are more likely to say math, history, English and science.

Which subject should financial literacy replace? – by gender

Selection% of male respondents% of female respondents
Physical Education 28.9% 32.4%
Math 18.5% 14.6%
History 9.6% 7.8%
English 7.4% 6.1%
Science 3.8% 2.7%
Elective 1.6% 2.9%
Other 30.1% 33.4%

People in the West most support financial literacy classes

People from the West Coast are most in favor of classes teaching financial literacy to students, with 70.3% of respondents saying they think it should be taught in schools, followed by the Midwest at 68.2% and the South 64.9%. Those in the Northeast are least likely to say that financial literacy classes should be required in school at 63.4%.

Which subject should financial literacy replace? – by region

SelectionsNortheastMidwestSouthWest
Physical Education 26.8% 31.6% 34.0% 25.8%
Math 20.1% 16.4% 14.1% 15.7%
History 8.2% 7.2% 9.3% 10.1%
English 9.3% 9.3% 6.6% 7.5%
Science 5.2% 5.8% 3.1% 4.9%
Elective 2.6% 1.3% 2.4% 2.0%
Other 27.8% 28.4% 30.5% 34.0%

New Mexico leads the charge for financial literacy in schools

New Mexico is home to the highest percentage of respondents saying financial literacy should be required in school at 86.2%, followed by Louisiana at 83.3% and Montana at 80%.

At the other end of the spectrum is Idaho, with just 41.7% saying financial literacy should be required in school, followed by Maryland at 45.5%. Michigan and South Carolina are tied for third lowest at 50%.

Percentage of respondents that say financial literacy should be required by state

RankState% of respondents
25 Alabama 64.7%
18 Arizona 67.9%
20 California 67.5%
12 Colorado 71.6%
28 Connecticut 63.2%
11 District of Columbia 72.2%
29 Florida 62.7%
23 Georgia 65.2%
39 Idaho 41.7%
24 Illinois 64.8%
4 Indiana 78.9%
34 Iowa 57.6%
17 Kansas 69.2%
2 Louisiana 83.3%
38 Maryland 45.5%
13 Massachusetts 71.4%
36 Michigan 50.0%
8 Minnesota 74.3%
35 Mississippi 52.2%
10 Missouri 73.0%
3 Montana 80.0%
21 Nebraska 66.7%
32 Nevada 60.0%
7 New Jersey 75.0%
1 New Mexico 86.2%
30 New York 61.6%
26 North Carolina 64.6%
13 Ohio 71.4%
15 Oklahoma 70.6%
19 Oregon 67.9%
33 Pennsylvania 59.6%
36 South Carolina 50.0%
22 Tennessee 65.4%
9 Texas 73.8%
5 Utah 77.4%
31 Virginia 60.2%
6 Washington 77.1%
27 Wisconsin 63.9%
16 Wyoming 70.0%

Note: Table excludes states with fewer than 10 respondents

Methodology

Our data is based on an online survey of 2,001 US adults over the age of 18 commissioned by Finder and conducted by Google Surveys from July 29, 2021, to August 17, 2021. Participants were users on websites in the Google Surveys Publisher Network and were unpaid.

We assume the participants in our survey represent the US population of 255.2 million Americans who are at least 18 years old according to the July 2019 US Census Bureau population estimate. This assumption is made at the 95% confidence level with a 2.2% margin of error.

Our survey asked respondents whether they believe that financial literacy classes should be required in school and, if so, which subject it should replace with the possible selections:

  • Physical Education (i.e., Gym classes/P.E.)
  • Math
  • History
  • English
  • Science
  • Elective
  • Other

We excluded states with fewer than 10 respondents from our state-to-state comparison.

Susannah Binsted headshot

For all media inquiries, please contact:

Susannah Binsted, Head of Public Relations United States

E: uspr@finder.com

/in/susannah-binsted-07442743/ /susannahbinsted/

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