Montgomery County schools may add ‘financial literacy’ to required courses

High school students in Montgomery County, Maryland, may soon be required to take a financial literacy course that includes learning how to budget, invest, spend and borrow.

The idea was proposed Tuesday by Hana O’Looney, the student member of the Montgomery County School Board.

“A lot of students have reached out telling me how anxious they are to be graduating without really having the knowledge to be financially independent,” O’Looney said.

Under her proposal, the county’s interim superintendent would explore the possibility of creating a .5 credit financial literacy course and report back on the matter by January. If approved, the requirement would debut at high schools in the 2023-2024 academic year.

O’Looney said she has made a point to speak with students from different schools across the county, and many of them have expressed concerns about understanding concepts such as improving credit scores, filing taxes and requesting financial aid.

“They wish that what they were learning in school was more relevant and applicable to their lives,” O’Looney said.

The school board will vote on the plan during its Oct. 26 meeting.

Five high schools in Montgomery County offer financial literacy courses already, but they are electives and relatively few students opt to take them.

Last year, school board members in Prince George’s County passed a resolution adding a financial literacy course to its future graduation requirements after students said that while they could tackle academic subjects, they didn’t know how to balance a checkbook, pay taxes or how credit works.

Public schools in Charles County also require students to take a financial literacy course to graduate.

Nick Iannelli

Nick Iannelli can be heard covering developing and breaking news stories on WTOP.

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