By: Brittany Flaherty Theis

Section 27-12.1 of the Illinois School Code requires public school students in grades 9 through 12 to study certain consumer education topics. Section 27-12.1 was recently amended to include additional required topics of instruction. The required consumer education courses must include, but are not limited to, understanding basic concepts of financial literacy and understanding the roles of consumers interacting with agriculture, business, labor unions, and government in formulating and achieving the goals of the mixed free enterprise system.

Section 27-12.1 describes basic concepts of financial literacy as including consumer debt and installment purchasing (including credit scoring, managing credit debt and completing a loan application), budgeting, savings and investing, banking (including balancing a checkbook, opening a deposit account, and the use of interest rates), understanding simple contracts, State and federal income taxes, personal insurance policies, the comparison of prices, higher education student loans, identity-theft security, and homeownership (including the basic process of obtaining a mortgage, subprime loans, and predatory lending). Consumer debt, higher education student loans, and identity-theft security were added by Public Act 99-284, which took effect July 1, 2015.

The State Board of Education is required by Section 27-12.1 to create or approve the consumer education curriculum and to specify the minimum amount of instruction that must be devoted to consumer education. However, the State Superintendent noted in his weekly message that numerous additional resources are available regarding the newly added topics through the Office of the Attorney General for Illinois and the Illinois Student Assistance Commission. The Illinois Attorney General has posted publications and brochures on a large variety of topics including car buying, financing, and repair, credit and lending issues, identity theft, and student loans. Those resources can be found HERE. For students considering college, the Illinois Student Assistance Commission’s (“ISAC”) website provides detailed information about college and scholarship searches, the financial aid process, money management, repaying student loans, and loan forgiveness. ISAC’s Student Portal can be found HERE.

Contact Whitt Law Attorney Brittany Flaherty Theis if you have any questions regarding Public Act 99-284 and the expanded consumer education requirements it contains.

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