Billy J. Hensley, PhD: December 20, 2019


The National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE) on Why Financial Education Should Be a Priority in 2020 and the Effects of State-Mandated Financial Education on College Financing Behaviors 

Does Your State Require Financial Literacy Instruction?



President and CEO National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE)


Financial literacy is an important and necessary life skill. While we don’t widely see it in every classroom, it has been a formal part of the American education system for more than a century and momentum is building as more states adopt mandates to require financial education in high schools. Recent research reinforces the benefits of state-mandated financial education and how it leads to families and students making better decisions about how to borrow for college.


According to a NEFE-funded study, students in states where financial education is required to graduate from high school end up making better financial aid decisions as college freshman, moving from higher-cost to lower-cost borrowing options. Mandated financial education increases applications for grants and federal aid, keeps overall borrowing balances down, and decreases credit card balances.

According to the National Endowment for Financial Education, state-mandated financial education graduation requirements:

  • Increase the likelihood students will apply for financial aid
  • Increase acceptance of both grants and subsidized federal loans
  • Decrease private loan amounts for borrowers
  • Decrease the likelihood of carrying a credit card balance


On average, exposure to financial education:

  • Increases applications for aid by 3.5%
  • Increases the likelihood of having a grant by 1.4%
  • Decreases the likelihood of carrying a credit card balance by 21%
  • Reduces private loan balances by roughly $1,300 for borrowers


Currently, 19 states have some sort of financial education mandate in place. But are they all effective? Are teachers being consulted about how to make outcomes matter? Should legislation drive financial education in schools? Billy Hensley, Ph.D., president and CEO of the National Endowment for Financial Education is available to discuss the benefits of financial education in high school and how to make it have the most positive impact. Dr. Hensley also can share state-specific information and tips for teachers to provide the best possible education program.





Billy J. Hensley, Ph.D., was appointed president and chief executive officer of the National Endowment for Financial Education® (NEFE®) in 2018. From 2010-2018, Hensley served as NEFE’s senior director of education, overseeing the grants and research department, including management of several consumer education programs, collegiate initiatives, and e-learning and web strategy. He has a distinguished career working in educational philanthropy and higher education administration in Colorado, Ohio and his home state of Kentucky, with a focus on financial education, college access and teacher professional development. Hensley currently serves on the board of the Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy, where he chairs the education committee. In 2019, Hensley was named to the CNBC Financial Wellness Advisory Council, a group of financial experts, thought leaders and influencers in financial capability. He also is on the editorial board of the Journal of Financial Counseling and Planning.

This interview is produced for the nonprofit National Endowment for Financial Education

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