Financial Literacy and Financial Education in High School

  • William B. WalstadEmail author
  • Ashley Tharayil
  • Jamie Wagner


Increased interest in financial literacy among youth has put more focus on financial education in high school. Financial education offered in high school may be students’ only exposure to the subject and therefore it should provide instruction in basic finance concepts and decision-making skills that can be useful later in life. Recognition of the value and importance of financial literacy for youth has influenced curriculum and instruction in schools throughout the USA. Many states have included financial literacy in their standards or as a requirement for graduation. There are more programs devoted to teaching personal finance to high school students and national tests to measure the level of high school students’ financial literacy. This chapter discusses major developments in high school financial education, including personal finance coursework, content standards, testing, and research about state mandates and specific curriculum.


Curriculum Financial education Financial literacy High school Mandates Personal finance Testing 


  1. Agarwal, S., Driscoll, J. C., Gabaix, X., & Laibson, D. (2009). The age of reason: Financial decisions over the lifecycle. Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, 2009(2), 51–117.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bernheim, B. D., Garrett, D. M., & Maki, D. M. (2001). Education and saving: The long-term effects of high school financial curriculum mandates. Journal of Public Economics, 85(3), 435–465.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bosshardt, W., & Walstad, W. B. (2014). National standards for financial literacy: Rationale and content. Journal of Economic Education, 45(1), 63–70.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Braunstein, S., & Welch, C. (2002). Financial literacy: An overview of practice, research, and policy. Federal Reserve Bulletin, 88, 445–457.Google Scholar
  5. Brown, A. J., Collins, M., Schmeiser, M., & Urban, C. (2014). State mandated financial education and the credit behavior of young adults. Finance and Economics Discussion Series (2014–68). Washington, DC: Federal Reserve Board.Google Scholar
  6. Carlin, B. I., & Robinson, D. T. (2012). What does financial literacy training teach us? Journal of Economic Education, 43(3), 235–247.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Cole, S., Paulson, A., & Shastry, G. K. (2013). High school and financial outcomes: The impact of mandated personal finance and mathematics courses. Harvard Business School Working Paper 13–064. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School.Google Scholar
  8. Council for Economic Education. (2013). National standards for financial literacy. New York: CEE.Google Scholar
  9. Council for Economic Education. (2016). Survey of the states: Economics, personal finance and entrepreneurship education in our nation’s schools in 2016. New York: CEE.Google Scholar
  10. Danes, S. M., Rodriguez, M. C., & Brewton, K. E. (2013). Learning context when studying financial planning in high schools: Nesting of student teacher, and classroom characteristics. Journal of Financial Counseling and Planning, 24(2), 20–36.Google Scholar
  11. Gale, W. G., Harris, B. H., & Levine, R. (2012). Raising household savings: Does financial education work? Social Security Bulletin, 72(2), 39–48.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Gellman, S., & Laux, S. C. (2011). Financial fitness for life: Teacher guide, grades 9–12 (2nd edition). New York: Council for Economic Education.Google Scholar
  13. Harter, C. L., & Harter, J. F. R. (2009). Assessing the effectiveness of financial fitness for life in eastern Kentucky. Journal of Applied Economics and Policy, 28(1), 20–33.Google Scholar
  14. Hastings, J. S., Madrian, B. C., & Skimmyhorn, W. L. (2013). Financial literacy, financial education, and financial outcomes. Annual Review of Economics, 5, 347–377.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  15. Hilgert, M. S., Hogart, J. M., & Beverly, S. G. (2003). Household financial management: The connection between knowledge and behavior. Federal Reserve Bulletin, 89, 310–322.Google Scholar
  16. Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy. (2015). National standards in K–12 personal financial education (4th ed.). Washington, DC: Jump$tart Coalition.Google Scholar
  17. Loibl, C., & Fischer, P. J. (2013). Academic discipline and personal finance instruction in high school. Journal of Financial Counseling and Planning, 24(1), 15–33.Google Scholar
  18. Lucey, T. A. (2005). Assessing the reliability and validity of the Jump$tart survey of financial literacy. Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 26(2), 283–294.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Lusardi, A., & Mitchell, O. S. (2014). The economic importance of financial literacy: Theory and evidence. Journal of Economic Literature, 52(1), 5–44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Lusardi, A., Mitchell, O. S., & Curto, V. (2010). Financial literacy among the young. Journal of Consumer Affairs, 44(2), 358–380.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Mandell, L. (2008). Financial literacy of high school students. In J. J. Xiao (Ed.), Handbook of consumer finance research (pp. 163–183). New York: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. McCormick, M. H. (2009). The effectiveness of youth financial education: A review of the literature. Journal of Financial Counseling and Planning, 20(1), 70–83.Google Scholar
  23. Morton, J. S., & Schug, M. C. (2001). Financial fitness for life: Teacher guide, grades 9–12. New York: Council for Economic Education.Google Scholar
  24. National Association of State School Boards of Education. (2006). Who will own our children: The report of the NASBE commission on financial and investor literacy. Arlington, VA: Author.Google Scholar
  25. National Center for Education Statistics. (2013). The nation’s report card: Economics 2012 (NCES 2013–453). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, NCES.Google Scholar
  26. Remund, D. L. (2010). Financial literacy explicated: The case for a clearer definition in an increasingly complex economy. Journal of Consumer Affairs, 44(2), 276–295.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Tennyson, S., & Nguyen, C. (2001). State curriculum mandates and student knowledge of personal finance. Journal of Consumer Affairs, 35(Winter), 241–262.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Walstad, W. B., & Buckles, S. (2008). The national assessment of educational progress in economics: Findings for general economics. American Economic Review, 98(2), 541–546.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Walstad, W. B., & Rebeck, K. (2005). Financial fitness for life: High school test examiner’s manual (grades 9–12). New York: Council for Economic Education.Google Scholar
  30. Walstad, W. B., & Rebeck, K. (2012). Economics course enrollments in U.S. high schools. Journal of Economic Education, 43(3), 339–347.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Walstad, W. B., Rebeck, K., & MacDonald, R. A. (2010). The effects of financial education on the financial knowledge of high school students. Journal of Consumer Affairs, 44(2), 336–357.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Way, W. L., & Holden, K. C. (2009). Teachers’ background and capacity to teach personal finance: Results of a national study. Journal of Financial Counseling and Planning, 20(2), 64–78.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • William B. Walstad
    • 1
    Email author
  • Ashley Tharayil
    • 2
  • Jamie Wagner
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of EconomicsUniversity of Nebraska–LincolnLincolnUSA
  2. 2.Department of Economics and Business AdministrationAustin CollegeShermanUSA
  3. 3.Department of EconomicsUniversity of Nebraska at OmahaOmahaUSA

Personalised recommendations