Crunching the Numbers: South Burlington students now required to take financial literacy class

Many know how to spend money but saving money isn’t always as intuitive.
Published: Feb. 2, 2023 at 6:21 AM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Many people know how to spend money but saving money isn’t always as intuitive. Now, one area high school has made financial literacy a requirement for students to graduate.

You probably learned financial knowledge the hard way and not during a high school course. A recent survey conducted by Champlain College found that 93% percent of students think a personal finance course should be offered in high school.

At South Burlington High School, a class has been offered for decades, but now, students won’t graduate without crunching the numbers. And students are buzzing over income, investing and inflation.

“Financial advice, like that’s something that everybody needs, everybody’s going to use,” said Alexander Youchah, a senior at South Burlington High School.

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

“Really trying to have them train their brains to make decisions and to start investing early and really set themselves up for not only short-term success in their career, but when they retire,” said Gordon.

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

“Putting everything together. We do a game-of-life kind of simulation where they look at their budget over 35 years, essentially, and they try to figure out how is inflation going to affect these expenditures and how will It impact my salary, although it may be going up every year, is it or is it not going to keep up with inflation,” said Gordon.

Gordon said students come in with some knowledge.

“I knew like I need to save 20%, but I didn’t know like credit scores,” said SBHS senior Nyasha Rutanhira.

“I talked with my dad a little bit about investing. I’d heard about taxes and stuff, but nobody ever really taught me about financial stuff,” said Youchah.

But taxes, investing, credit, and spending are all standout topics.

“I actually felt like it’s applicable, and even talking about things like the latte factor and how much money you’re spending on Starbucks every day,” said SBHS senior Sana Alnamee.

Nearly 80 students have taken the course in the past two years that Gordon has been teaching it. 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. Doesn’t matter which career you explore, and your future, doesn’t matter whether you go to college or not. It’s all about like, how is this going to help me now and how is it going to help me in the future?” said Gordon

As graduation looms for seniors, students in the class are leaving the halls with a plan.

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

“Thinking about going into college next year. Budgeting is like going to be huge,” said Rutanhira.

Not every school has financial literacy classes, according to a Champlain College study, 12% of students are guaranteed a class like this.