Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Courses in Personal Finance Needed

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Courses in Personal Finance Needed

Article excerpt

Byline: Robin Warren

April is National Financial Literacy Month.

What better time to take stock of the status of financial literacy in our state?

As lawmakers in Washington struggle to turn the country's finances around, many Floridians continue to wrestle with their own challenging economic circumstances.

The reality is Florida ranks among the seven bottom states when it comes to consumer financial stress.

Much of this stress is a result of poor choices made by consumers who lacked the basic knowledge about credit, savings, investing and other personal financial matters.

FALLING BEHIND

And, sadly, we're not doing enough to ensure that Floridians will be better equipped to make good choices in the future.

Our students are heading out into the world from high school unprepared to face the immediate financial challenges in front of them.

They're taking on substantial debt, mostly in the form of student loans and credit cards, without an appreciation for the burden of repayment.

The average student now graduates from college almost $27,000 in debt; as a result, the average 18- to 24-year-old now devotes nearly one-third of his or her income to debt repayment.

TEACH THE BASICS

Students, teachers and parents all agree on the importance of taking a financial education class in high school.

Yet Florida does not currently require a course on personal finance, and most high schools do not even offer such a course.

Research shows that requiring a course on personal finance is the only policy that leads not only to greater financial knowledge but also to positive financial behaviors: budgeting, saving and responsible credit usage.

That's why the Florida Council on Economic Education is urging our state legislators to require that every student be required to take a semester course in personal finance in high school. …

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