In a move to equip high school students with essential life skills, Pennsylvania has passed Senate Bill 843, an omnibus education bill that includes a groundbreaking provision mandating high schools to offer standalone personal financial literacy courses. The initiative aims to ensure that students graduate with a fundamental understanding of financial concepts crucial for navigating adulthood.
Gennaro Piraino, the superintendent in the Franklin Regional School District, expressed enthusiasm for the idea, stating, “I think it’s a fantastic idea.” The district already offers a personal finance course and is exploring avenues to integrate it further into the curriculum. Pennsylvania now joins the ranks of 24 other states that have committed to providing basic financial literacy, according to the nonprofit Next Gen Personal Finance.
Providing Students with a Solid Foundation to make Informed Financial Decisions
State Sen. Chris Gebhard, R-Lebanon County, the original sponsor of the bill, underscored the need for this initiative, noting, “An alarming number of our high school students are currently entering adulthood and the workforce without an appropriate knowledge of basic financial concepts.” Gebhard aims to provide students with a solid foundation to make informed financial decisions and avoid unintended economic disadvantages in the future.
Colten Oakes, a graduate of Franklin Regional, shared his experience, highlighting the importance of financial education at the university level. Oakes emphasized the benefits of such classes, stating, “It did feel very beneficial, and I did come out with a better understanding of debt and how to tackle it.”
Beginning with the 2026-27 school year, Pennsylvania school districts will be required to implement the financial literacy course, covering topics such as budgeting, saving, credit management, investing, loans, interest rates, and other fundamental financial concepts. To ensure effective implementation, districts will receive resources and training from the Department of Education, collaborating with experts and educators to provide high-quality course materials and model curriculum.
Every School should Offer it
Joanne McClellan, a teacher at Monessen High School, is already incorporating financial literacy into her curriculum, making it mandatory for 11th-grade students. McClellan stressed the importance of such courses, stating, “Every school should offer it.” The discussions in her class have sparked interest and questions among students, addressing real-world scenarios such as understanding deductions from hourly wages and labor laws.
The positive reception from educators and administrators, like Piraino, underscores the potential impact of the initiative. While recognizing that it won’t solve all financial literacy problems, Piraino believes it will provide students with a basic understanding of crucial financial aspects, including check writing, understanding the actual costs of items like cars, and the long-term impact of decisions such as taking a 30-year mortgage. Pennsylvania’s move represents a significant step toward empowering the next generation with essential financial knowledge for a successful future.