Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Improve Financial Literacy Everyone Needs to Know How to Manage Personal Finances

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Improve Financial Literacy Everyone Needs to Know How to Manage Personal Finances

Article excerpt

The recent financial crisis and Great Recession that affected so many homeowners and retirees made it obvious why people need to know how to handle their finances. With student loan debt now rising past $1 trillion, threatening to hobble young people financially and slow economic recovery, the need for financial literacy is all the more pressing.

Pennsylvania ranks third in the nation in student debt, according to the Project on Student Debt. Over 70 percent of our college students graduate with more than $30,000 in student loans that must be repaid beginning as early as six months after graduation.

Our young adults are not prepared to enter today's increasingly complicated financial world. While most parents say they talk to their kids about money, over 40 percent give themselves a C, D or F on their own knowledge and would like some help, according to a 2014 survey by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling.

Most parents want their children to learn money-management skills in schools so they are able to make informed decisions about saving, spending, investing and protecting their money without having to learn from the "School of Hard Knocks" as many of us adults did. In fact, high school teachers in school districts with a required personal-finance course say their students tell them that parents are quizzing them so that they can learn, too.

Last year, a Pennsylvania task force on financial education submitted a report and four recommendations to the governor and General Assembly on how to better teach personal finance in schools. Act 104 of 2010 mandated the task force, which I chaired, to examine the needs and trends of financial education in the commonwealth's K-12 school districts and to study how funding might be provided for improving those efforts.

We found there are a growing number of school districts in Pennsylvania (close to 50) that have addressed community concerns and now require high school students to take a personal-finance course before graduation - Belle Vernon, Burrell, Cornell and Riverview school districts are examples in Allegheny and Westmoreland counties. …

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