The Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake school district teaches financial literacy to students from kindergarten through 12th grade in order to help students prepare for the future and what lies ahead.
“It's really surprising that they come in with this passion and interest for money and want to prepare themselves for the future,” said business teacher Nicole Passante. “In contrast to a lot of high school students, they are actually thinking ahead.”
It’s believed educating children about finances at a young age is essential, which is why some school districts are making it their mission to teach them about banking, budgeting, credit, mortgages and retirement accounts, among others, and accounts they're planning to use very soon, such as 529 plans, which offer special rules and tax benefits that make saving money for college — as well as K-12 tuition — a lot easier.
“For me and my family, college is an important topic right now,” said BH-BL senior Mary Hayden, “so we talk about how we're going to pay for it, the methods we're going to use to pay for it, the different costs of different schools, and weighing the pros and cons of each one based on the experiences I can gain.”
Nearly 23% of U.S. high school students graduated having taken a personal finance course in 2022, according to Next Gen Personal Finance. However, the sooner a person starts, the better.
“I took business classes all through high school, and those who aren't interested in business should take a few classes,” said BH-BL senior Jake Paulsy. “It's not uncommon for people to take classes like personal finance in high school, but everyone has to use the future to work, like I said, filling out the W-2 and I-9. Not a lot of people would think that that's a business class in high school.”
The high school recently opened what it calls Spartan Bank, run by students and faculty, located in its library. Students can access banking services during school hours through the bank's partnership with First New York Federal Credit Union, and students who open accounts at the bank are also eligible for incentives, like prom tickets and gift cards.
"It's a great extension of what we've learned, and it gives us the ability to apply what we've learned in a way that's really tangible and something we will take with us for the rest of our lives," said Hayden.