DE PERE, Wis. — One in five people between the ages of 18 and 24 have an unpaid debt that was sent to a third party for collections, according to the Urban Institute. Now there is a push to make sure young adults are educated on sound financial practices before leaving school.

A northeastern Wisconsin student was part of the push to make that happen. 

What You Need To Know

  • Gov. Tony Evers signed AB109 that mandates high schools teach at least one semester of financial literacy to every student in the state

  • This mandate becomes effective with the 2028 graduating class

  • Wisconsin is the 24th state to mandate a half-credit financial literacy course for graduation

There’s a high probability you’ll find Chase Yells buried in a textbook. The West De Pere High School senior has a 4.2 GPA. Yells said his favorite subject involves math.

“Personal finance was a top favorite, but I really loved macroeconomics, really seeing the intersectionality of public policy and market effects,” Yells said.

Aside from solving his math problems, Yells wanted to help other high school students with theirs. So, he said he contacted his assemblyman and joined a coalition to push the legislature to pass a financial literacy bill.

“It was astonishing to me that so few schools and states require required the class. So, I looked into some legislation. I thought, ‘why can’t I? Why can’t I help?’” Yells said.

Brian Schumacher, Dean of Students at West De Pere High School and macroeconomics teacher, said he’s not surprised Yells wants to help other students with money.

“Chase has an intrinsic motivation about him that I haven’t seen in very many students. He is very driven, and determined to figure out answers,” Brian Schumacher said.

Schumacher has worked at West De Pere High School for 20 years. He previously worked in the finance industry. Schumacher said he hopes Yells' efforts will help students avoid future financial missteps because he’s seen firsthand the devastation economic hardship can have on a family.  

“It broke my heart. It’s one of the reasons why I got back into this field. So, I think that this bill going forward, where a lot of students can learn about personal finance and understand a little bit more about banking and credit cards will not only help each individual but help our society as a whole and hopefully, you know, grow the economy,” Schumacher said.

Last December, Gov. Evers signed Wisconsin Assembly Bill 109 into law. Starting in 2028, high school students will need at least one semester of financial literacy to graduate. Yells said he’s proud to be part of this effort.

“It feels great being part of something that is going to really impact millions of students. It wouldn’t have happened without the truly amazing legislators, advocates and teachers, even nonprofit organizations,” Yells said.