Utah Financial Education History

  • In 2003, S.B. 154 (Sponsor: Thomas V. Hatch) was signed into law requiring that financial literacy be taught in schools and establishing a graduation requirement.
  • In 2004, the Utah Board of Education approved a one-semester financial literacy class (General Financial Literacy) that is required for graduating students, beginning with the class of 2008, making Utah the first state to legislate and implement a financial literacy high school graduation mandate.
  • In 2008, S.B. 61 (Sponsors: Pat Jones and Karen Morgan) was signed into law requiring that Financial and Economic Education be taught in grades K-12 through the core areas of Math, Social Studies, and Language Arts. Included in this legislation was the Financial and Economic Education Passport, which in theory, was a mechanism to recognize students for completing age-appropriate activities and lessons. In practice, the Passport was too expensive to be implemented as intended. The Passport mandate was removed from law during the 2019 legislative session
  • In 2009, the Utah Council on Financial and Economic Education (UCFEE) was established through a concurrent resolution (SCR 3) to ensure improved financial and economic education in Utah through the collaboration of private and public entities that engage in teaching financial principles and share a commitment to empowering individuals and families to achieve economic stability, opportunity, and upward mobility. The state treasurer was appointed as the chair of UCFEE. A primary objective of the council is to advocate for and strengthen K-12 financial education offerings.
  • In 2014, Utah’s financial literacy mandate was strengthened by S.B. 40, requiring students to pass an online general financial literacy exam and instructors to obtain an endorsement for the subject. The bill allocated $450,000 for the implementation of the education requirements.
  • In 2016, the General Financial Literacy educator endorsement was formalized to better prepare our teachers to teach the subject. The State Board of Education, Utah Jump$tart Coalition, and other local and national organizations have provided our educators with fantastic opportunities for training and access to valuable resources.
    In addition, our State Board of Education has placed great emphasis on concurrent enrollment as a mechanism for enhancing the quality of the financial education that our students receive, while enabling them to earn inexpensive college credit.
  • In 2018, the Office of State Treasurer took over administration of the Stock Market Game from the Division of Securities. The office switched platforms in 2023, and the statewide competition is now known as the Utah Treasurer's Investment Challenge.
  • In 2018, the state auditor and state treasurer conducted a review of Utah’s financial literacy requirement and program. The review shows that Utah students who have completed the General Financial Literacy requirement appear to have better personal financial knowledge and make better behavioral choices than those who have not. The study also identifies opportunities to improve the effectiveness of the program itself to help further strengthen the financial skills of Utah’s young adults as well as opportunities to enhance program oversight.
    • The review surveyed 1,500 high school graduates. Key questions for the survey were built using some nationally-recognized financial literacy survey questions and other behavioral measures. These approximately 1,500 students are divided into three categories:
      • Approximately 500 students who graduated from a Utah public school from 2008‐2018 (ages 20‐28) who would have been required to take GFL.
      • Approximately 500 students who graduated from a Utah public school before 2008 (ages 29‐44) who would not have been required to take GFL.
      • Approximately 500 students who graduated from high schools in surrounding states (Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada) from 2008‐2018 (ages 20‐28) who did not have a state mandate to take a financial literacy course.
    • The review also analyzed the results of the GFL Assessment from the school years 2015–16, 2016–17 and 2017–18.
    • The survey results indicate that Utah public high school graduates who took one of the GFL courses for graduation exhibited higher average scores on both the knowledge and behavior questions. There is a correlation between Utah’s
    • GFL course participation and improved personal financial knowledge and behavior for the past decade of graduates.
      Some areas we can improve upon include:
    • There is a lack of ownership and adequate oversight of GFL instruction because it does not readily align with the traditional organizational structure of schools.
      GFL classes are generally funded on an ad hoc basis
      Staffing GFL classes appears to be a source of frustration for many principals
      There is a lack of consistent, meaningful collaboration among GFL instructors
      New instructors are overwhelmed by available resources but lack curated lesson plans
      Many GFL instructors receive limited feedback to assess their performance
      The GFL assessment needs significant improvement
      GFL Performance Review: https://treasurer.utah.gov/wp-content/uploads/GFL-Performance-Review-10-5-18.pdf
  •  In 2019, the Legislature acknowledged that our financial literacy mandate is strong and used it as a springboard to strengthen our students’ understanding of economic systems, including a command system, a market system, and a mixed system, as well as historic and current examples of the effects of each economic system on economic growth.
  • Additionally, the Utah Council on Financial and Economic Education has a committee that will work to ensure the auditor’s recommendations are implemented and identify other ways K-12 financial education in Utah can be improved.

While we have achieved much in Utah, we acknowledge the program can and should be improved, and we are actively working to do so.