Michigan officially becomes 14th state to mandate personal finance education before high school graduation

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer addresses the state during a speech in Lansing, Michigan on Oct. 8, 2020.
Michigan Office of the Governor via AP

Michigan is now officially the 14th state in the U.S. to guarantee that its students have access to a personal finance education course before high school graduation.

On Thursday, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed HB 5190, a bill mandating personal finance classes. The legislation previously passed the state’s House of Representatives and Senate with bipartisan support.

“As a mom, I want every kid who graduates in Michigan to enter the world with a diverse set of skills and knowledge, and that must include financial literacy,” said Whitmer in a Thursday statement.

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“I am proud to sign this bipartisan bill requiring all public school students to take a personal finance course,” she added. Every young Michigander deserves to know how to budget, save, and invest their money wisely so they can get off a great start after high school, whether they go to college, start working or open a small business.

Having this course requirement will help set up Michigan students for success in adulthood, according to Rep. Diana Farrington, R-Utica, a sponsor of the bill.

“Establishing a core class dedicated to financial literacy has been a years-long labor of love for me, and I’m truly excited for the students who will fly to new heights through a fuller, richer education,” she said in a statement.

Michigan’s new law requires a half-credit course

Michigan’s legislation requires that all high school students take a half-credit course in personal finance before they graduate. That course can count as a math, arts, language or language other than English requirement at the discretion of local school boards.

The law will go into effect for students starting eighth grade in the 2023-24 school year.

Michigan’s House first passed the legislation in December with a 57-43 vote. It was amended and sent to the Senate, where it passed in May. Because the bill was amended, the House had to vote on it again before it could be sent to the governor.

The legislation was supported by the Michigan Bankers Association, Michigan Credit Union League and the Michigan Council for Economic Education. In addition, two of the largest school districts in the state, Oakland Schools and the Wayne County Regional Educational Service Agency, supported the bill.

Personal finance education ‘something all can agree on’

The legislation is the latest to pass with overwhelming bipartisan support. Earlier this year, both Florida and Georgia passed similar laws guaranteeing access to a personal finance course for all students.

“In an era of polarization, this seems to be something all can agree on,” said Tim Ranzetta, co-founder of Next Gen Personal Finance. 

It’s part of a growing trend of states implementing such bills to mandate personal finance education. Because of such laws, roughly 25% of high school students this year had access to financial literacy courses, according to Next Gen Personal Finance’s 2022 State of Financial Education report.

Once states that recently passed bills implement their legislation, more than 33% of students will be guaranteed a personal finance course, according to the study.

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Sophie Tremblay

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