Florida high school students may need a full-semester “money literacy” course prior to graduation under new bills filed in the Legislature last week.
House Bill 367 and Senate Bill 212 — known collectively as the “Money Course” bills — have the support of 43 legislators, as well as the backing of both the Business Law Section of The Florida Bar Association and the Florida Chamber of Commerce.
If passed, the bill would require an inexpensive, half-credit, full-semester financial literacy course for graduating high school students.
The measure is the result of a recommendation by a statewide coalition led by the Florida Council on Economic Education, responding to studies indicating that nearly half of Florida’s high school seniors lack a basic understanding of issues like income, credit and insurance. Recent statistics also show sharp rises in bankruptcies and student loan defaults among young people age 20-24.
“We want to empower young people with the finance skills that will take them into young adulthood and beyond,” said Business Law Section chair Stephen Nagin of The Florida Bar Association. “Dedicating a semester to financial literacy will help set them up for success over the long term.”
Other startling statistics regarding the relationship between Florida high school students and money:
Almost 20 percent of student loan debt are not being repaid, with a national default rate of 9.1 percent (up from 4.6 percent in 2007)
More than three-quarters (76 percent) don’t keep records of their spending
One quarter of students (25 percent) feel unprepared to pay for college
Only 11 percent of those under age 35 participates in their company’s 401k plan
Among the other backers of Money Course measures include the Florida Bankers Association, the Florida Prosperity Partnership and the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
“Florida’s students aren’t the only ones hurt by financial illiteracy,” said David Hart, Executive Vice President of the Florida Chamber of Commerce. “Our state’s businesses, small and large, suffer when our young adults lack the fundamental financial knowledge to contribute to Florida’s economy. And sound personal finances are a top factor employers consider when hiring.”
Reps. Heather Fitzenhagen and Manny Diaz sponsored the House bill, gaining 34 co-sponsors. Sen. Dorothy Hukill filed the Senate companion, receiving 9 co-sponsors.
“We are grateful for the united support of Florida’s leading business and legal institutions,” said Geoff Simon, chair of the Florida Council on Economic Education. “The Business Law Section of The Florida Bar and Florida Chamber recognize that ‘The Money Course’ is essential to ensuring our students are prepared for the real world after school.”