DE PERE, Wis. — The road to adulthood can be a tough one for any high school student and deciding about money can be life changing.
At De Pere High School, senior Molly Neidermeyer signed up this semester for the elective class of personal finance. It’s a class that covers basic knowledge of debt, loans and budgeting.
“It’s helpful that I’m in this class, and just figuring [it] out right away,” said Neidermeyer. “I didn’t really know that much about how to pay for college, the real rate of college.”
The course is taught by Kerri Herrild for high school juniors and seniors. It’s one of the few offered in the state.
“They’re in their late teens and early 20s,” said Herald. “When we were learning this, we didn’t have a class like this. We were learning by making mistakes and messing up, and now the cost of those mistakes are just so high.”
The course is the type of class the State Assembly is proposing to make mandatory in order to earn a high school diploma.
Right now, Wisconsin does not require a course in personal finance. Each school district currently dictates whether the class is mandatory.
According to Next Gen Personal Finance, a national finance literacy organization, only 34% of Wisconsin students take a course like this to graduate.
If passed, Wisconsin would become one of only 10 states that make the class a requirement.
“We’ve all heard most of these terms. They are not foreign to most of us, but do you actually know what it means?” Herrild said. “No matter what field they go to, this will probably be the most useful class they’ll have in high school.”
Students like Neidermeyer, who is headed to a four-year university, face the uphill challenge of paying for their degree in a world where things are getting more expensive. For her, this course provides some self-confidence.
“I’m already seeing how much this class has benefitted me,” said Neidermeyer. “I probably never would have done this research myself, and I know others wouldn’t as well, so this has been very beneficial.”