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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: December 16, 2016 02:03 PM
From: Senator Anthony H. Williams
To: All Senate members
Subject: Financial Literacy Education in K-12 Schools
In the near future, I plan to re-introduce SB 101, a financial literacy bill that seeks to ensure high school students understand the concepts of personal finance before graduation and before they are legally responsible for incurring debt.

Currently, Pennsylvania schools may, but are not required, to teach most personal finance concepts that are included in the state academic standards. A January 2013 report from the Task Force on Economic Education and Personal Financial Literacy Education, authorized by Act 104 of 2010, found that only 7.5% of Pennsylvania’s 500 school districts require some type of personal finance course to graduate. Worse, 15% don’t offer any personal finance instruction at all. It should be no surprise, then, that Pennsylvanians now score below the national average on financial literacy tests. Allowing our students to graduate without the financial skills required for daily life is irresponsible; to expect 18-year-old to pick himself up by his bootstraps, we have to define those "bootstraps" in the 21st century.

Inspired by recommendations from the Task Force’s report, my legislation will ensure that all students in Pennsylvania receive a thorough and efficient education in personal finance before incurring overdraft fees, student loans, and credit card debt. First, it will require the Department of Education to create stand-alone academic standards in personal finance to be taught from kindergarten through 12th grade in all public schools. Second, all students must complete a capstone course in personal finance before graduation. Third, it will create an Office of Financial Education within the Department of Education that will work with schools, the Department of Treasury, and private-sector stakeholders to create a curriculum that is easily adaptable to the fast-changing landscape of personal finance. Further, these programs are relatively inexpensive and will be funded through corporate and private donations to a 501(c)(3) affiliated with the Department of Treasury.

Previous co-sponsors of this legislation include Senators TEPLITZ, FONTANA, WOZNIAK, COSTA, FARNESE, SMITH, HUGHES, AUMENT, BOSCOLA, YUDICHAK, RAFFERTY and BROWNE.

Please join me in co-sponsoring this important legislation for a healthy and functional economy in this Commonwealth.

Pennsylvania has some of the highest costs for public, private and community college education in the nation. Pennsylvania funds public higher education at approximately 50 percent of the national average. In Pennsylvania, an estimated 71 percent of students graduate with a debt, with the average of $32,258 per student.

This bill is part of the multi-faceted College Access Plan (CAP). CAP is a comprehensive package of legislation designed to improve student access to higher education, reduce student debt and jump-start Pennsylvania's economy.

Introduced as SB364