Oregon legislature passes high school financial literacy bill

June 21, 2023 -- Preparing students for the financial realities they will face upon graduation, the Oregon Legislature has just passed SB 3, which guarantees high school students a full semester credit of personal finance education as part of the graduation requirement.

Oregon credit unions have been working for almost two decades to bring this important life skill to students. According to the non-profit organization Next Gen Personal Finance, Oregon now becomes the ninth state to require a semester-long course in personal finance.

“We are pleased the Legislature recognized the importance of a robust financial education curriculum as part of the graduation requirements,” said Oregon State Credit Union President and CEO, Richard Hein. “Our credit union and many others in the state have long dedicated resources to bring financial education to our students to help ‘fill the gap’ left by not having this critical course included in the graduation standards.”

SB 3 was sponsored by Senate President Rob Wagner (D) Lake Oswego and Senate Republican Leader Tim Knopp (R) Bend at the request of Go West Credit Union Association, a regional association representing six Western States. The original version of the bill, however, did not include a specific financial education curriculum or credit but was one of a number of life skills instruction that included resume writing and applying for college financial aid.

“At Oregon State Credit Union, we knew that was not good enough. Personal finance had to be a focused curriculum all its own,” Hein said.

Rep. Janelle Bynum (D) Happy Valley had already introduced HB 3093 on behalf of Oregon State Credit Union, which carved out a specific half credit semester of robust personal finance and allows the Board of Education to apply the credit against the existing credits for mathematics. Testimony given during committee hearings noted that several schools offered personal finance as an elective, and it was often taught by mathematics teachers who incorporated algebraic principles whenever possible in the instruction. That flexibility proved instrumental in getting support from school boards and administrators. SB 3 was then amended to include the key elements of HB 3093 and it received strong support, with overwhelming votes in the House and Senate.

The new graduation requirement takes effect beginning with the graduating class of 2027.

Oregon State Credit Union is a member-owned, not-for-profit credit union. Membership is open to anyone who lives or works in one of 24 western and central Oregon counties. Additional information about Oregon State Credit Union is available at oregonstatecu.com.

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