This study uses three categories of financial outcome indicators (financial knowledge, financial dispositions, and financial behaviors) to assess the effectiveness of state policies regarding high school financial education. States were categorized into one of six categories based on their financial education policies; no standards, standards with no required implementation, standards requiring implementation, courses required but not testing, testing required but no courses, course and testing required. An effective policy category would ideally produce students with high levels of financial knowledge, positive financial dispositions (i.e. low materialism, high financial self-efficacy, high future orientation, and some willingness to take investment risk), and positive financial behaviors (i.e. saving regularly, using a budget, engaging in responsible credit use).
Our first hypothesis is that differences in the rigor of state financial education policies will lead to differences in outcomes related to financial disposition, financial knowledge, and financial behavior. Our second hypothesis is that the increasing rigor of state policies will be associated with healthier financial outcomes.
We collected data via a web survey from 15 college campuses, representing all six policy categories and various regions of the U.S. A stratified random sampling method was employed, with a total of 172,412 emails being sent out, yielding 16,872 respondents. After removing students who were educated abroad, educated by home school, received a GED, or did not indicate their state of high school attendance, the final sample was 15,797 students.