Among the most significant milestones in any young person’s life is high school graduation. As schools throughout central Virginia hold commencement ceremonies for the Class of 2021, it’s a good time to revisit an important life lesson that many students still are missing: financial education.

Recent research indicates that basic financial literacy is lacking among young people in the United States. A study from the National Center for Education Statistics found that 1 in 5 American 15-year-olds doesn’t understand basic financial terms and concepts. Another report found that only half of adults ages 25 to 34 in this country could pass a financial literacy quiz.

Fortunately, Virginia does have a high school graduation requirement that all students must complete a one-credit course in economics and personal finance. It’s a good start, but there’s still much more to do.

Why is financial education so important for students?

It serves as the foundation for those early money decisions that could impact their lives for years to come. A solid understanding of financial skills is crucial to positive outcomes later in a young person’s life. Research backs up this claim. A 2020 survey from the Council for Economic Education concluded that students who are required to learn financial literacy make better financial decisions across multiple and important money scenarios.