Financial literary may soon be a graduation requirement at all Washington high schools

PUYALLUP, Wash. — All Washington high schools are currently required to offer financial literacy education, but it is not required for students to take the class to graduate. 

But if a bill making its way through the legislative session in Olympia passes into law, that would change.  

“I think this is a really great way that we can prepare students to make some of the really, really big first financial decisions in a responsible way,” said Rep. Skyler Rude, R-Walla Walla.

Rep. Rude is the sponsor of HB 1915, which would make financial literacy a statewide requirement for graduation. The bill has already passed through the House and passed a Senate Committee on Wednesday, Feb. 21.

“So much groundwork has already been laid, the curriculum is available, teacher training is available,” said Rude. “The Superintendent of Public Instruction already has learning standards in place.”

If the bill passes into law, the first class to have financial literacy as a statewide graduation requirement would be the class of 2031.

As this bill moves forward in Olympia, some school districts in Washington are a few steps ahead.

In Puyallup, 24% of students graduating this year have taken financial literacy, but that number will soon be 100%. 

Back in 2022, the Puyallup School District decided that they would make financial literacy a requirement for graduation. The first class in the Puyallup School District to have this requirement is the class of 2026.

“I’m just excited to be able to bring the opportunity for financial literacy to more students,” said Yesica Pak, who has taught financial literacy at Puyallup High School for seven years.

During a recent class, students in Pak’s class learned how to make a monthly budget, which is just one piece of the curriculum.

“We learn everything from taxes, investing, insurance, retirement, banking,” said Pak.

Students in her class said they feel the course is preparing them to make a financial plan for post-high school education and beyond.

“If you know how to save and budget your money correctly, then your life can be so much easier,” said Julie Parson, a senior at Puyallup High School. “Investing is an important part of adult life.”

Parson said she hopes that financial literacy will become a requirement so that other students can learn about these topics too.

“It is so important for people to know how to do taxes, how to buy a car, how to get loans, and how to save money and use their money wisely,” said Parson.

There are at least 11 other states that have passed laws requiring financial literacy for graduation, including Oregon and Utah. 

    

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