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Home | Tag Archives: family finance

Tag Archives: family finance

Study: More States Requiring Students to Learn Financial Literacy

LUBBOCK –  A new report shows that while most states, including Texas, are doing a better job of teaching high school students financial skills, there is still room for improvement.

The Center for Financial Literacy at Champlain College issued a recent report card on how well the 50 states are doing at sending students out into the world knowing the basics of personal finance. John Pelletier, director of the Center, said while high school students need to know how to handle things such as checking accounts, investing and credit cards, if they plan on going to college, they will also need to know how a student loan works.

“Two-thirds or more of all students across the country are graduating with student debt, and yet we’re not giving them the skills and the foundational knowledge they need to handle that debt responsibly,” Pelletier said. “I think we kind of have a moral obligation to do that as a country.”

The report gave fewer than half the states the highest grades – an A or a B – for their financial curriculum, while 27 states earned a C, D or an F. Pelletier said states that earned the top grade require high school students to complete a comprehensive, stand-alone course on financial literacy.

He said only five states earned an A, and added that Texas earned a B.

“A B is a state that requires a course for graduation that includes personal finance be taught as part of that,” he explained. “Most states who get Bs – there are 19 of them – do this through a required economics course.”

In 2012, Texas began requiring public and charter high schools to offer Personal Financial Literacy as a 0.5 credit elective course.

Pelletier said the Center’s studies found that many people reach a point in life where they wish they had learned more about handling money when they were younger.

“They’re asked about things that they wish they had been taught when they were in high school – many of them talk about personal finance,” he said. “So I think people regret this much younger than in their 40s or 50s. It can be a regret in their 30s, because we all make financial decisions that impact us.”

Pelletier said the study shows financial literacy is linked to positive outcomes such as wealth accumulation, stock market participation, retirement planning and avoiding high-cost financial services such as payday lending and auto title loans.

Low-income families need help to boost savings

AUSTIN, Texas – It’s tough these days for low-income families to set aside money, but a new policy brief from the Annie E. Casey Foundation is urging government leaders to make saving easier.

Beadsie Woo, senior associate with the Casey Foundation, says the federal government needs to develop programs that help families start saving for the future.

“There are common-sense federal policies that can create more opportunities for families to save, and those change the life course for their children,” says Woo.

The policy brief suggests programs such as establishing and seed-funding savings accounts when children are born, or making it easier for employers to provide workplace savings plans.

Woo says minorities have a particularly difficult time saving for the future.

“The racial wealth gap is growing, and that’s putting children of color at a huge disadvantage,” she says. “Policies that make it easier for families to save can go a long way toward helping children have better futures.”

Woo says programs such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families often cut people off if they have too much in savings. In Texas, the asset limit is just $1,000. She says the limit should be at least $12,000, about a three-month cushion for a low-income family.

OpportunityTexas, a joint initiative of the Center for Public Policy Priorities and the group RAISE Texas, works to develop children’s savings accounts, employer-based savings programs and tax-refund investment plans for low-income families.

OpportunityTexas project coordinator Laura Rosen says such financial backstops can make a real difference in children’s lives.

“There is research that, for kids, when they know they have a cushion and kind of a margin for error, it allows them to dream,” she says. “Gives them confidence to reach their goals and not feel like they are living in crisis mode.”

The Casey Foundation brief also calls for the government to do a better job promoting entry-level retirement accounts called My Retirement Accounts and help more eligible families own homes through the federal Family Self-Sufficiency Program.

Author: Mark Richardson – Texas News Service

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