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  • Significant Accomplishments: Required one-half unit of personal financial literacy for high school graduation; K-12 financial literacy standards; Dedicated financial literacy website

  • Needs Improvement: Make the high school graduation requirement a stand-alone course rather than integrated into other classes.


In an effort to increase its students’ financial literacy, Iowa recently added a personal finance course as a graduation requirement. 2018 Chapter 1119 (S.F. 2415) mandates that “all students shall complete at least one-half unit of personal finance literacy as a condition of graduation,” beginning with the graduating class of 2021. The course can be taught in Social Studies, Math, or CTE. The requirement can specifically be met through the successful completion of: Consumer Math, Economics, Microeconomics, Introductory Business, Banking & Finance, Family & Consumer Sciences, Consumer Economics/ Personal Finance, Iowa Financial Literacy Course, Life Skills, Personal and Career Readiness, or Employability Skills. The completed course can count towards another graduation requirement if it meets the requirements. For example, if the course is taught in social studies, it can count as part of the five units of social studies required. Schools may offer multiple courses that meet the personal finance literacy requirement. 

Prior to requiring a personal finance course, Iowa already had embedded financial literacy into its K-12 standards. In 2007, the Iowa legislature created the Iowa 21st century framework which includes financial literacy as one its five core strands. Iowa has specific financial literacy standards for each grade, K-12, which are required by law to be met, ensuring each Iowa student is thoroughly instructed in personal financial literacy. Even with the addition of the 21st century skills financial literacy core standards, students must still meet the one-half unit personal finance high school graduation requirement.

Iowa also provides financial literacy resources with links to helpful websites and curriculums on the Iowa Department of Education Financial Literacy website.

Iowa ensures financial literacy instruction in kindergarten through 12th grade through specific K-12 financial literacy standards and its high school personal finance requirement. However, Iowa receives a “B” instead of an “A” because its high school requirement can be integrated into other courses rather than only taught as a stand-alone personal finance course.

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