One of the biggest changes in high school in recent years has been the addition of personal finance classes.  Twenty states now require the class in order to earn a diploma. In some schools, a popular radio host is lending his expertise.

For more than a quarter century, radio host Dave Ramsey has shared financial advice on some five hundred stations.  Now, his plain-talk approach to money matters is part of a required classroom curriculum.

Brittany Carbonell’s class at Chattanooga’s Boyd Buchanan High school is aimed at freshman students.  Many of them are learning the basics of managing money for the first time.

The subject was once ignored in high schools.  Most Americans had received little or no training about car loans, credit cards, taxes and insurance. Carbonell hopes classes like hers will prevent the next generation of young adults from making expensive mistakes.

“College seems to be where everybody has that first hiccup,” Carbonell says. “They have so much college debt, and when they do get married with a family, it starts them off on the wrong foot.”

Students say the class has been an eye opener.  They admit it's natural to use their parents as a personal ATM, and say it’s easy to fall prey to the lure of credit card ads that promote, “buy it now” and worry about paying for it later.

Of students who have taken a personal finance course, 94 percent say they understand how student loans work, and 79 percent say they understand how a 401(k) works.