By Nathalie Voit

Most Americans believe students should have access to effective financial education during high school, according to a recent poll from the National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE) published on April 25.

The survey results found that 88% of U.S. adults believe a semester- or year-long financial education course should be mandated by states for high school graduation.

Four in five survey respondents also expressed regret that they had not been required to take a finance course when they were students.

Three-quarters of survey participants named spending and budgeting as the most important financial education topic, followed by managing credit (55%), saving (49%), and earning income (47%).

The older cohorts (ages 45–59 and 60+) were significantly more likely than the youngest cohort (ages 18-29) to support financial education mandates.

The better-educated (e.g., adults with a postsecondary degree) were more likely to say the government should mandate financial education than those without a high school diploma (91% vs. 71%).

Men and women were similarly likely to indicate support for financial education during high school.

Income levels also appeared to influence whether the participants were likely to support financial education instruction. Those with a household income under $300,000 (73%) were less likely to support financial literacy mandates than those at the upper end of the income distribution (84 to 85%).

Financial education mandates were viewed more favorably by non-Hispanic Whites (84%) than non-Hispanic Blacks (73%) and Hispanic (73%) adults.

Males were more likely than females to rank investing (38% vs. 27%) and managing risk (15% vs. 9%) as prime topics of importance within finance.

“Americans overwhelmingly recognize the importance of learning money skills at an early age, and this poll reinforces there is demonstrated national support for personal finance to be a part of learning in all schools,” President and CEO of NEFE Billy Hensley, Ph.D. said in the survey.