Florida’s schools are supposed to prepare our students for success in life. Whether pursuing higher education or entering the workforce, we expect that students are ready for the real world based on what they learn in the classroom.
But there is one area where we are perpetually failing the next generation: financial literacy and managing money wisely.
Nearly half of Florida’s high school seniors lack an understanding of financial basics, like responsible credit use, income taxes, loan repayment and savings accounts.
Consider what is happening right now among our students who go college. Nationally, student loan debt has reached more than $1 trillion, with the average college graduate entering the workforce owing an all-time high $37,000 in student loan debt. And nearly half of those students – 45 percent – are choosing not to repay their student loans, creating what many consider to be the next “bubble” that will leave taxpayers with the bill.
The good news is financial literacy education works. Studies show that students in states with required financial literacy courses are more likely to save, use credit wisely and live within their means and less likely to incur risky personal debt and student loan defaults. Because of this compelling research that confirms the positive impact to students’ behaviors, states requiring personal financial literacy education have increased from one state in 2002 to sixteen states in 2015.
That is why I have amended the Senate appropriations bill to include funding for a pilot program to implement a financial literacy course in Broward County’s schools. My amendment also includes funding to enable other school districts to implement this course. Based on the 2013 CAPE Act, this budget amendment completes a journey that began three years ago and is backed by educational and financial leaders across the state of Florida, including the Florida Council on Economic Education, the National Endowment for Financial Education, Associated Industries of Florida, the Florida Bankers Association, the Florida Chamber of Commerce and the Business Law Section of the Florida Bar, to name a few.
This measure passed the Senate Appropriations Committee unanimously and the entire Senate on a 36-0 vote and enjoys wide bipartisan support in both the House and Senate. I look forward to working with my colleagues during the upcoming budget conference negotiations to provide this important opportunity to Florida’s high school students.
Our students deserve this, and our teachers are asking for it.
Sen. Jeremy Ring represents District 29 in The Florida Senate, which includes central and western Broward County. He serves as chair of the Senate Governmental Oversight and Accountability Committee, and as vice chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Ring was first elected in 2006.