INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana lawmakers want high school students to learn financial literacy.
Under Senate Bill 35, it would become a graduation requirement for students in public and charter high schools.
State Sen. Mike Gaskill (R-Pendleton), the bill’s author, works in financial services outside his role in the Indiana General Assembly. He has encountered many young people who don’t know much about how to manage their money, he said.
“It makes it much harder for them become homeowners,” Gaskill said. “It makes people in a position where they end up having to live check to check. They don’t understand the consequences of how to properly use credit.”
The curriculum would cover several skills.
“It would cover banking, insurance, simple contracts, state and federal income tax preparation,” Gaskill said.
But Gaskill and others raised concerns about an amendment approved by the House education committee Wednesday that made several changes to the bill. Among them: private schools would be excluded from the financial literacy requirement. The bill previously required all Hoosier high school students to take a course on the subject.
“We need to fix this problem, and then we’re going to say we’re going to carve out 70,000 students, it’s not a problem for them,” said Chris Lagoni, executive director of the Indiana Small and Rural Schools Association.
State Rep. Bob Behning (R-Indianapolis), who chairs the House education committee, said the amendment was meant to match the legislation in another bill the House passed earlier this session.
“Trying to continue to add more regulations to nonpublic schools was something the committee chose not to do, and that’s why the language is drafted the way it is,” Behning said.
The amendment also allows schools to teach financial literacy classes within another subject instead of requiring a standalone course.
Gaskill said he’s hoping to get those changes removed as the session progresses.
The bill passed in the Senate on a 47-2 vote. After receiving unanimous approval by the House education committee, it heads to the House floor.