New Florida financial literacy requirements can help students navigate student debt, expert says

File Photo (WPLG)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – All Florida high school students must pass a financial literacy class to graduate starting in fall 2023.

Some financial experts tie lack of financial literacy to high student loan debt.

Financial planner Jeff McDermott says most of the time when students are taking out loans, they’re just focused on paying tuition and don’t realize that they could end up paying $1,000 or more in monthly payments.

RELATED: Gov. DeSantis signs bill to require financial literacy class for high school graduation

High school students who enter the 2023-2024 school year must take a half-credit course in personal financial literacy and money management to graduate.

The course teaches:

  • The Basics of Money
  • Understanding Debt
  • How to Balance a Checkbook
  • Fundamentals of Investing

Graduating senior Angelina Eidson says she wishes the course was required sooner. Budgeting money and saving for school isn’t easy.

“I think that if someone had sat down with me or even had an educator teach a course on it I would’ve been a lot more aware about putting this money in my savings. Which, I did take some, but I have some friends that don’t know how to set up a savings account,” said Angelina Eidson, a senior at Paxon School for Advanced Studies.

McDermott said understanding financial literacy while you’re young is crucial especially if you’re planning to go to college.

About 46 million Americans have student loan debt, but it disproportionately affects young people.

“They might have this dream of buying a home, starting a family after college and they feel like they have to put that on hold while they work out these student loan payments,” McDermott said.

Now 11 states, including Florida, require students to take a stand-alone personal finance course to graduate.

The new requirement also reduces the number of required electives for high school students to 7½ credits, from the currently required eight credits.

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This native of the Big Apple joined the News4Jax team in July 2021.