North Carolina schools are required to teach personal finance, but critics say it's not enough to prepare students. Student debt is at an estimated $1 trillion. And according to experts, seven out of 10 Americans live paycheck-to-paycheck.
"I kind of wish I knew a lot more, but I'll learn eventually," UNCC freshman Alec Pickup said.
Pickup was among recent high school grads Eyewitness News talked to Sunday. Students told Channel 9 they understand the basics of finance, but when it comes to mortgages or even if a credit card is a good or bad idea they're at a loss. "I don't know anything about it," Pickup said. "And I'm going to need to eventually."
Josh Kibler said his mother had helped him with basics, but if he had to buy a home: "Yeah, I'd definitely have some trouble with that," he said.
Experts said the way personal finance is taught has to be improved in North Carolina. It's mandatory in the civics and economics class in high school, but is that enough?
"In my personal opinion, no," Executive Director of the North Carolina Council on Economic Education Sandy Wheat said. CMS said the class will prepare students to be financially responsible, but a national study released in 2010 showed that less than 20 percent of teachers felt confident teaching personal finance.
"Our center director … conducted a similar study statewide in North Carolina, and the findings were remarkably similar," Wheat said.
Wheat's group helps educate teachers, but she says personal finance should also be talked about at home. Eyewitness News spoke with the author of a personal finance book who said that college affordability should be a dinner table conversation. Wheat believes parents need to teach kids about spending early on.
"It takes discipline, and it takes practice," Wheat said. "And it takes learning from a very young age."