Gov. Ned Lamont speaks about a new initiative to recruit more teachers. Jessika Harkay / CT Mirror

Connecticut high school students will now be required to enroll in a financial literacy course in order to graduate.

Gov. Ned Lamont signed Senate Bill 1165 into law Thursday morning and it’ll become effective this fall with the freshmen that make up the class of 2027. The financial literacy course will be counted as a humanities or elective credit and “will not add to students’ existing required credits,” the administration said.

“Personal financial management is one of the most important instructional tools that we can give young people to achieve economic independence and stability throughout their lives, and requiring it to graduate from high school is simply common sense,” Lamont said in a news release. “This course will help give every student a better shot at financial success, particularly those who are not fortunate enough to be given the opportunity or the resources to receive this kind of instruction at home. Financial education is as important as math, science, and reading.”

The legislation was broadly supported throughout the session and was approved by the Senate 35-1 and voted out of the House 138-12. Over two dozen written testimonies from organization heads, one of the state’s teacher unions, school superintendents and residents were submitted in support of the bill.

“I believe that this bill should be implemented because I have seen firsthand the effects of not having any financial literacy as a young adult. Many people, like my older brother, who graduated in 2022, are completely lost on how to handle themselves when it comes to personal finance,” wrote Keeley Bell, a high school student from Ledyard. “He has received a bit of aid from my parents, who have taught him how to budget and do his taxes, but many people aren’t getting the same help as my brother. After high school, most people go off to college or trade schools, but aren’t fully prepared for an independent life yet, so they end up struggling and stressed with that aspect of being on their own.”

Education Commissioner Charlene Russell-Tucker was also among supporters of the bill. “Access to financial literacy instruction provides students with tools for lifelong financial security, ultimately fostering prosperous families, robust communities, and a strong Connecticut,” Russell-Tucker said.

The state’s Board of Education is now responsible for developing a curriculum and additional resources for local school boards to develop the classes, which are required to teach banking, investing, saving, and the impact of credit cards.

Connecticut joins 21 other states that have passed similar legislation.

Jessika Harkay is CT Mirror’s Education Reporter, covering the K-12 achievement gap, education funding, curriculum, mental health, school safety, inequity and other education topics. Jessika's experience includes roles as a breaking news reporter at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and the Hartford Courant. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Baylor University.