WCSD High Schools Offer Personal Finance Classes
High school students are learning how to handle finances, including budgets, saving, debt and investments before they graduate.
Every comprehensive high school in the Washoe County School District are offering a personal finance class. It allows students to learn how to handle their money before they head out into the real world.
"We talk about budgeting, we talk about saving, we talk about debt and opportunity cost of debt," Cindy Griffin, Wooster High School teacher said. "We get into investing and making decisions in the future with relationships."
In 2017, the state legislature passed a law that requires every student to take one semester of economics or personal finance in order to graduate, starting in 2022. Griffin says learning how to deal with finances could be one of the most important classes her students will take.
"Our students are going to live this every day of their lives," Griffin said. "Even though there's a lot of subjects we teach here at school, this is one that they'll use every day."
The classes are made possible because of a partnership between WCSD and the Hayek Group, which raises money from private donations to fund the curriculum. It says 5,000 seniors per year will take the classes at 16 different Washoe County schools by next year. It is also serving 13 other high schools throughout northern Nevada, including in rural areas. The Hayek Group's 7-year site license drops the price of the curriculum from $30 per student to about $5.
"We know that these classes are always going to exist if our donors are the ones paying for it," Leah Wagner, Member of the Hayek Group's Board of Directors said. "I believe if we do not teach young people the meaning of the word 'budget', these young people will learn the meaning of the word 'eviction'."
Students say they enjoy Griffin's class and say they think it will help them to transition from high school to adulthood easier.
"You're going to need money to survive the real world on your own and it just teaches you how to manage that money," Evan Doering, Wooster High School Senior said.
"Miss Griffin makes it so clear to us what we can do with our money, how we can save for college and what we can do to pay for college in cash and how to live life as debt-free as possible," Channing Ford, Wooster High School Senior said.
Griffin teaches the personal finance class, once per week, as part of her government class. She uses David Ramsey's model, which includes avoiding debt by using cash for as many things as possible, including cars.
"Dave Ramsey's curriculum teaches actually that cars are paid for with cash and that you graduate your car up as you earn more and that you save, that you actually pay yourself the car payment and then you continue to upgrade your car," Griffin said.
Griffin says being debt-free gives you more financial independence, and her students are listening.
"When we learn about this, it gives us the opportunity to know what's right and wrong in terms of money and how to spend it and where you can go with it and how to save and even how to be a millionaire," Ford said.
This curriculum is not strictly designated for seniors. The Hayek Group says it can also be used for grades 9-11.