In the northeast, the people of the state of Vermont strongly favor requiring high schools to offer personal financial literacy classes. Reports coming out of Vermont high schools also support expanding personal finance education, with college student David Klinker declaring that Personal Finance was the most important (and life-changing) class he had taken in high school. John Pelletier, director of the Center for Financial Literacy at Champlain College, says that Vermont will be joining up to a dozen other states in 2023 to explore requiring a personal finance class in public high schools.
Polling results should influence Vermont’s legislature to push strongly for more financial education in high school: 83 percent of respondents thought a personal finance class should be offered in high schools, and 85 percent also thought that a civics course should be offered. To help more Vermonters on the path to financial literacy, Champlain College requires its undergraduate students to complete a personal finance class.
Financial Literacy Education in Vermont
Fortunately, the state of Vermont has been working on expanding financial literacy education since at least 2018, when it adopted the Jump$tart National Standards in K-12 Personal Finance Education. These standards were applied through existing classes, such as math and social studies courses. While this is a good first step, it should definitely progress toward the utilization of a standalone Personal Financial Literacy course for high school students. Many other states have financial education standards sprinkled throughout existing classes, but these may not be cohesive or rigorous enough to guarantee student learning. Currently, Vermont has a “C” grade from The Nation’s Report Card on Financial Literacy.
Adults looking to learn more about financial literacy can find help through the Office of the State Treasurer, which has links to resources. A state-specific website, MyMoney.Vermont.gov, also includes education resources. Education modules include retirement savings, credit and borrowing, insurance, taxes, recognizing financial scams, and money information for kids. As a geographically smaller state, Vermont can also offer a neat feature: a map showing the location of financial literacy resources! There is also a searchable database of financial literacy resources, which includes location information, how to contact, days of operation per week, and age population served.
Champlain College has resources for educators at its Center for Financial Literacy webpage, partnering with TeachFinLit.org. Vermont Technical College also has links to educational resources, primarily for young people to self-access. Still, this can be a great resource base for high school educators. The University of Vermont also has resources, and even a class on Personal Financial Literacy (CDAE 158).
Even younger students have access to financial literacy education, at least up through 2022: the VerMoney after-school program, in collaboration with the State Treasurer’s Office, provided financial education to grades 2-5. The 8-10 week program provided elementary school students with education on making positive choices with their money. Older students in grades 7-12 can participate in Vermont’s Jump$tart program, which utilizes volunteers to help teach financial literacy to teenagers.