SBHS students now required to take financial literacy class

SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) – Many know how to spend money, but saving money isn’t always that intuitive.

You probably learned finance the hard way and not during a high school diploma.

A recent poll conducted by Champlain College found that 93% of students think a personal finance course should be offered in high school. A course has been offered here in South Burlington for decades, but now students won’t graduate without cracking the numbers.

South Burlington high school students rave about income, investment and inflation.

“Financial advice like this is something that everyone needs and everyone will take advantage of,” said Alexander Youchah, a senior at South Burlington High School.

Drew Gordon teaches a financial literacy course, which is an elective for juniors and seniors.

“Really trying to get them to train their brains to make decisions and invest early and set themselves up for not just short-term success in their careers but also in retirement,” Gordon said.

It is a semester-long course based on six modules that focus on employment and income, saving and spending, credit and debt, investing, insurance and risk management, and financial decision-making.

“Put everything together. We do a kind of life simulation where they essentially look at their budget over 35 years and they try to figure out how inflation is going to affect that spending and how it’s going to affect my salary, although maybe it will go up every year keep up with inflation or not,” Gordon said.

Gordon said the students come in with some knowledge.

“I knew I needed to save 20%, but I didn’t know what the credit rating was,” said SBHS senior Nyasha Rutanhira.

“I talked to my dad a little bit about investing. I had heard about taxes and such, but no one ever really taught me anything about finance,” Youchah said.

But taxes, investments, credit, and spending are all prominent issues.

“I actually felt like it was applicable and even about things like the latte factor and how much money you spend at Starbucks every day,” said Sana Alnamee, senior of SBHS.

Nearly 80 students have taken the course Gordon has taught over the past two years. But starting with this year’s freshman class, every student will graduate with the knowledge.

“I don’t have to work hard to convince them of the relevance of what we’re talking about. It doesn’t matter what career you pursue, and your future doesn’t matter if you go to college or not. It’s just how is this going to help me now and how is it going to help me in the future?” said Gordon

With senior graduation looming, the students in the class leave the halls with a plan.

“I just turned 18, so I know I’m going to start doing a Roth IRA,” Alnamee said.

“I’m thinking about going to college next year. Budgeting is like it’s going to be huge,” said Rutanhira.

According to a study by Champlain College, not every school offers financial literacy courses, 12% have taken financial literacy courses.

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