Gov. Roy Cooper on Monday signed into law House Bill 924, which requires students to pass a course in financial literacy as a graduation requirement.
Cooper signed the bill despite objections from critics who complained about the circuitous route the bill took to land on his desk.
The bill’s financial literacy provision was appended by the Senate onto an unrelated education bill and then returned to the House for a concurrence voted without any further discussion by a House committee.
Critics also pointed out that financial literacy is already taught as part of the high school civics and economics course. A separate course, they complained, would crowd out vitally important classes.
The one-credit course in economics and personal finance will be one of four full-course credits in social studies required for high school graduation.
Students entering the ninth-grade in the 2020-2021 school year will be the first to need the financial literacy credit to graduate.
Supporters of HB 924 argued the bill is a needed in an era where high school students, particularly those headed to college, are asked to make life-changing financial decisions (student loans) as soon as they walk across the graduation stage.
The bill was championed by Lt. Governor and 2020 gubernatorial candidate Dan Forest who has said the state could retool the state’s social studies curriculum to create room for a semester of financial literacy.
Forest said adoption of the bill would be transformative for students.
“I think transformative to the education of our young people and I think that’ll be transformative to our state and nation as well,” Forest said.
The law requires students to receive instruction on economic principles and personal financial literacy instruction that would include:
- The true cost of credit,
- Choosing and managing a credit card,
- Borrowing money for an automobile or other large purchase,
- Home mortgages,
- Credit scoring and credit reports,
- Planning and paying for post-secondary education, and other relevant financial literacy issues.