This is a question that I get asked all the time, so I thought I would spend a few hours delving into some recent academic research to see what I could find. Answering this question in an analytically rigorous way becomes more imperative given the multiplicity of financial literacy curriculums and approaches being developed by school districts and financial firms alike. How do we know which ones work?
I found myself nodding my head several times (and thinking this
might be a worthwhile non-profit venture) while reading this blog post
from Annamaria Lusardi, a leading financial literacy researcher and economics professor at Dartmouth College (emphases are mine):
"It is also at this time that one realizes the need for information. How
many institutions are doing financial education programs and how do
they do them? I do not know the answer to this question nor would I
know where to find this information. I also fear that anybody who is
entering this field could end up reinventing the wheel: devising yet
another set of curricula, materials, and programs rather than making
use of what already exists or backing their program with proven best
"More than 2,500 teachers and 76,000 students in all 50 states
participated in the voluntary exam, which shows interest is strong. But
the scores were disappointing. The average student is just squeaking by
with 70% correct. Students failed to answer basic questions about
credit cards, car insurance, and compound interest. This shows we have
a lot of work to do."
It's Financial Literacy Day today and April is Financial Literacy month so lots of news to compile this week:
Syracuse University financial aid director Youlanda Copeland-Morgan sees transformation in financial aid's role in assisting students (from Syracuse.com): "Traditionally, financial aid professionals are most recognized for one
thing: helping students pay for college. But now more than ever, we are
also seeing the growing need to counsel students who are in way over
their head with personal financial issues."
Syracuse has rolled out an array of services including:
"Heesacker [Randy Heesacker, president of
NSLP] said it will be up to the federal Department of
Education what, if any, role guaranty agencies have in the direct
lending program going forward.
NSLP and similar agencies do have one ally in California
Democratic Rep. George Miller, who is chairman of the House
Committee on Education and Labor.
Miller has suggested the Education Department contract with
guaranty agencies to provide the kinds of services to borrowers
that they currently provide in the FFEL program.
"As more students become increasingly dependent on loans, we
have a responsibility to ensure students have the assistance,
information and repayment tools they need," said Melissa
Salmanowitz, a spokeswoman for the Education and Labor Committee,
"State and non-profit guaranty agencies have provided these
services in many areas and could continue to do so in working with
the Department of Education."
FED Governor thinks financial literacy should be requirement (from Business Week):
"Federal Reserve Governor Elizabeth Duke said that
financial literacy should be a standard part of the curriculum in U.S.
schools. “The need in this country for financial education is
so great that we must continue to tackle it at all levels and with all
available resources,” Duke said today in remarks prepared for an event
on financial education in Washington. “We need to imbed financial
concepts in every K-12 curriculum in the country.”