Teaching Financial Education in Highschool


Is Your High Schooler Ready to Manage their Finances?

Are your students prepared to make sound financial decisions once they’ve left high school? Have they had any financial education in highschool? College is expensive, and without a solid financial education, students may fall into debt traps. They could become one of the 43% of adults in the U.S. that have limited buying and borrowing capabilities due to low financial literacy.   

Forbes reports that 44% of Americans don’t have enough cash to cover a $400 emergency, 43% of student loan borrowers are not making payments, 38% of U.S. households have credit card debt, and 33% of American adults have $0 saved for retirement. These statistics are higher for people with disabilities, who according to the National Disability Instituteare statistically more likely to be late with mortgage payments, overdraw their checking accounts and take loans from their retirement savings accounts.   

Teaching financial education in highschool on can help young adults avoid falling into the pitfalls of incurring high debt and living paycheck-to-paycheck. CSD Learns offers free online financial literacy webinars in American Sign Language for the deaf community. Their Financial Education series, sponsored by Well-Fargo & Company, consists of webinars that discuss topics ranging from investing, banking, borrowing, and more.  

Their most recent webinar was led by Joseph Santini, Director of Instruction at the Laurent Clerc National Center for the Deaf and Michael Higgens, a Financial Education teacher at Model Secondary School for the Deaf in Washington, D.C., who discussed how to prepare deaf youth ready for college and the world. 

Here are six recommendations on how you can provide financial education in highschool.

1. Education Begins at Home

Wells Fargo found that just one-third of parents discuss finances with their kids around once a week. Talking about money with your kids is a great way to help them understand your thinking processes when it comes to budgeting. It helps to teach students how to identify the difference between wants and needs so they can develop sound money management skills. Additionally, tying your child’s allowance to chores is a great way to establish financial accountability at home. 

2.  Find and Incorporate Accessible Resources  

There are more classroom resources available in English than in American Sign Language. Sign language resources can help students learn how to read and interpret financial concepts as well as apply them to real life. Keep your students engaged by giving them real-life examples and have them defend their decisions in front of their peers. You could also bring in outside experts to talk with the students directly.   

Michael Higgens: I use CSD Learns’ finance videos in my classroom. I also bring in experts from organizations like DeafTax and Merrill Lynch.    

3. Encourage Your Students to Pursue Hands-On Learning Opportunities Inside and Outside of School

Schools should create more opportunities for their students to practice money management. Participating in extracurricular activities provides students hands-on learning experiences. Student clubs and leadership groups have the responsibility of managing funds for school activities. Learning how to balance a budget for your entire class is sure to teach students financial responsibility. You should encourage your students to get part-time jobs. Employment is a great way to help your students better understand the value of money.

4. Tailor Your Lesson Plans to Include Deaf-Related Financial Opportunities

Everyone has different financial goals. Essential components of a financial literacy curriculum for high schoolers is budgeting, investing, borrowing, and protecting your money from risk. It is also necessary to teach your students about credit cards and loans early on. However, there are specific economic considerations for deaf people that most financial education courses for high school students don’t address. It is necessary to modify your lesson plans to incorporate commonly used public assistance programs such as discounted public transport, SSDI, SSI, and vocational rehabilitation. Find ways to educate your deaf students on how this assistance works and how they can best utilize it.   

Michael Higgens: I recommend teaching students about Able AccountingIt’s an accounting service specifically for people with disabilities that provides a way for people to save that money without being taxed for it.  

5. Let the Games Begin 

Games are an excellent way to help students learn fiscal responsibility. Monopoly teaches students about investing and growing their money. In keeping with the times, there is even a new version of Monopoly for online banking. However, youth often feel disconnected from money because of how easy it is to swipe their money away. When you have cash in hand, it’s harder to spend it as opposed to having a card. Students must learn that they are responsible for all their purchases and that everything adds up – even in a game.     

6. It’s Never too Early to Start Investing

You can never predict what the future may hold, but you can control what your investments cost you. Index funds are a great way to do that. You can choose how you want to spread your money across different companies at little to no risk. If young people start investing in high school, they have 30 years to see their money grow.   

Michael Higgens: I encourage young people to start investing their money early. The earlier they start, the higher return. 


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Are you a parent, student, or educator looking for more resources on financial education?  Join us for our next CSD Learns Financial Education webinar, sponsored by Wells Fargo, Hands-On Banking.  

The next CSD Learns Financial Education Webinar Series will discuss the challenges deaf people have with credit and debt.

Check out another CSD Learns Financial Education Webinar!

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