Financial Literacy

Should financial-literacy courses be mandatory in schools?
By Thomas J. Billitteri, September 4, 2009

Poor understanding of basic personal-finance and economic issues has left millions of students and adults mired in credit-card debt, prey to unscrupulous mortgage brokers and prone to making risky bets with their retirement money. High-school seniors correctly answer only about half the questions on personal-finance surveys, and those who take personal-finance courses tend to score no better than those who don't. Studies show similar deficits among adults. Yet experts disagree on a solution. Only a handful of states require at least a semester course on personal finance, and some advocates want Congress or state legislatures to mandate financial education for all K-12 students. Others question the effectiveness of financial-literacy programs in schools, and some worry that corporations may have too much influence on curriculum and instruction. A better approach to improving financial literacy, some argue, is to tighten government regulation to make credit cards, mortgages and other products easier to understand.

The Issues
* Is financial-literacy education effective?
* Should financial-literacy courses be mandatory in elementary and high schools?
* Should college students receiving government loans have to pass a financial-literacy exam or course?

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