Iowa City schools require new personal finance course after state financial-literacy requirement

Following a new state Board of Regents mandate, Iowa high schools now have a financial literacy requirement for graduation. Iowa City schools will implement the requirement beginning with class of 2021.


Raquele Decker

Photo Illustration by Raquele Decker.

Lauren White, News Reporter

In order to better prepare high-school students for the financial decisions they will make leading to and after graduation, all Iowa high-school students will be required to fulfill a financial literacy requirement before graduation.

Director of Curriculum in the Iowa City Community School District Diane Schumacher said that legislation outlines specific standards that students should understand such as student loans, mortgages, and basic financial budgeting.

“All four high schools in Iowa City will be making this change which means we will need to increase our staff and resources throughout the district,” Schumacher said. “Some schools will be adding a whole new course and others will be adding the required information to existing courses.”

Many business teachers are advocates for creating personal finance courses and some may offer college credit that involves the same content plus more, Schumacher said.

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“This course would be offered to all students but would be prioritized to seniors. Students would be learning about students’ loans, how mortgages work, the necessities of savings accounts, financial responsibility, consumer awareness and more that they can use in their future,” Schumacher said.

Schumacher said the new requirement would be implemented in the Iowa City Community School District for the graduating class of 2021, adding an additional graduation requirement of a trimester of personal finance.

Abbie Weipert, a business teacher at Iowa City West High School, said that students will have the vocabulary to ask the right questions to do their own research and make informed decisions.

“From my perspective, this class is not about equipping students with the ability to address these decisions on their own, right away. This class is about equipping students with the self-awareness to know when to ask for help and the resourcefulness to know exactly where to go for that help,” Weipert said.

UI University College Associate Dean Andrew Beckett said students need to be prepared to make big decisions at a young age.

“Anything we can do to help students make good choices, we will, because a basic understanding of financial basics is important,” Beckett said.

Beckett said being financially literate in high school can be crucial to deciding where a student attends college and how to make simple financial decisions throughout their college career.

The UI implemented a state Board of Regents-mandated financial-literacy course for all three of Iowa’s public universities four years ago. The Cash Course module through the online Success at Iowa orientation course offered at the UI includes the required information, Beckett said.

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Beckett said many students may look to attend school out-of-state and financial literacy can give them the tools to deduce the true cost of many decisions. Students make a lot of huge financial decisions as they prepare for college, he added, saying he completely supports the requirement.

“We forget that every high school student has completely different life experiences. Some have more insight than others but having a required course assures that all students have financial literacy,” Beckett said.