Maryland Maintains B Grade in Teaching Personal Finance

Maryland high schools have retained their collective grade of B in a national report card on how well they teach personal finance.

Awarded a B in 2017, Maryland earns the same grade in the updated 2023 National Report Card on State Efforts to Improve Financial Literacy in High Schools™, issued by The Center for Financial Literacy at Champlain College in Burlington, Vt.

Maryland joins 20 other states in earning a B grade in the new report, while seven states earned an A grade. B-grade states require personal finance to be taught in a course, but it’s up to school districts to decide how to implement the requirement. Grade A states clearly mandate a standalone, semester-long personal finance course.

John Pelletier, director of the Center for Financial Literacy, says that by 2028, 23 states are projected to have an A grade, and eight of them have a B grade this year. This means that the 1.7 million students attending high schools in grade A states in 2023 are expected to increase to 6.4 million students in five years.

“Since 2011, Maryland has required a high school personal finance education program,” says Pelletier. “How this requirement is net is determined locally by each school district. Our research shows that one-third of school districts require that students take a personal finance standalone course, while the rest embed the subject in other courses. To earn an A, the state would have to require all students to take a standalone, semester-long course.”

He notes that the state has made efforts to measure the impact of personal finance education in those school districts that use certain curricular resources.

Pelletier says state policymakers are responding to families without financial safety nets during the pandemic, as well as to advocacy by educators, administrators, parents, and students. He also notes that there is a  recognition that personal finance knowledge and skills are crucial in today’s complex financial world, and cites the expanding availability of free online curricular resources offered by state departments of education and by non-profit organizations.

A 2022 poll by the National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE) indicated that 88 percent of adults wanted their states to require a semester- or year-long financial education course for graduation from high school, and 8 in 10 adults wished they were required to take such a class when they went to school.

As momentum for personal finance education grows, teacher training will become more important. The Center projects that 30,000 highly trained personal finance educators in just the grade A and B states will be needed by 2028.

The 2023 Report Card includes a review of the racial and ethnic disparities in financial capability drawn from the most recent FINRA National Financial Capability Study written by researchers at the FINRA Investor Education Foundation (Angela Fontes, Hanna Gilmore, Gary Mottola, and Olivia Valdes), as well as research by Dr. Carly Urban of Montana State University highlighting the benefits of requiring financial literacy education in high school.

“Financial literacy is linked to positive outcomes, like wealth accumulation, stock market participation and effective retirement planning, and avoiding high-cost alternative financial services,” says Pelletier. “Conversely, poor financial literacy and negative financial behaviors often go hand in hand.”

“High school personal finance education can help alleviate the cycle of poverty that exists in our nation,” says Pelletier. “Requiring all students to take a standalone financial literacy course, regardless of their race, ethnicity or economic status, is an important step our nation can take toward reducing inequality.”

An interactive national map with information on the 50 states and the District of Columbia and a downloadable copy of the full National Report Card is available here: 2023 National Report Card. A fact sheet on Maryland can be found here.

To produce the Report Card, the Center again conducted detailed reviews of high school graduation requirements, state academic standards for personal finance education, and laws, regulations, and guidelines that relate to how each state delivers personal finance education in its public high schools.

The Law Firm Antiracism Alliance provided hundreds of hours of research to support the Report’s analysis of the current landscape of state legislation on personal finance education.

Champlain College
Founded in 1878, Champlain College is a small, private, not-for-profit institution located in Burlington, Vermont. The College offers an innovative approach to education that enables students to begin major-related courses and obtain internships in their first year. Champlain College prepares students to excel through a career-focused education, transformative hands-on experiences, and meaningful connections and collaborations that engage the passions of students to create a better world.

Champlain College has also been a leader in online education for over 30 years, providing a high-quality academic experience through acclaimed associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and certificate programs and a key partner for the Center for Financial Literacy. Champlain’s 3,000+ online students can be found in all 50 states and around the globe.

Financial Literacy education has been an integral piece of the Champlain College experience and the school is one of the few colleges in America that requires students to learn personal finance. Champlain’s InSight program requires personal finance education as a graduation requirement for traditional undergraduate students and the four-year program ensures that all students graduate with the tools to take ownership of their career, finances, and self-care.

Center for Financial Literacy at Champlain College
Champlain College’s Center for Financial Literacy is nationally known and respected for its work to increase the financial capability of our nation through its research, advocacy, and financial literacy educator training programs.

The Center for Financial Literacy’s (CFL) trusted research, the National Report Cards (High School, Adult, and Prepped for Success) have informed and led financial literacy debates nationwide. Founded in 2010, the Center for Financial Literacy has also developed two innovative and nationally recognized training programs to support educators in improving financial education in their classrooms, helping our youth to be equipped to handle the complexities and intricacies of today’s financial world.

The CFL’s director is John Pelletier, who was formerly chief operating officer and chief legal officer at some of the largest asset management firms in the United States. John is an attorney and has been involved in numerous state and national financial literacy advisory commissions as well as a valuable media resource for current financial literacy topics.

Law Firm Antiracism Alliance (LFAA)
The Law Firm Antiracism Alliance is a nonprofit organization created for the sole purpose of achieving racial equity in the law. The Law Firm Antiracism Alliance provided hundreds of hours of research to support the Report’s analysis of the current landscape of state legislation on personal finance education. The LFAA is a collaborative effort of 300 law firms that are located in all 50 states. These Alliance firms, in partnership with legal services organizations and key stakeholders, dedicate their pro bono resources to initiatives that identify and address systemic racism in all areas of the law.