New financial literacy bill aims to add student loan and higher education funding to school curriculum

The Colorado Capitol is featured in downtown Denver. Colorado is considering a new bill to impose a new financial literacy curriculum around higher education and student debt.

There are over 44 million Americans with some student loan debt. In Colorado, there are over 800,000 residents who owe an average of $ 34,497. This debt weighs heavily on young adults when they leave college and enter their professional careers.

For such a big issue as student debt, there is a lack of education and talk about it for younger students as they consider their college and graduate options. A new bill from Colorado seeks to increase the education of high school students around college payment and student debt management.

The bill adds to the existing financial education required by the state as well as the existing financial education resource bank.

If passed, schools should ensure that students in Grades 9 to 12 receive training on how to budget for reimbursement of costs associated with obtaining a post-secondary degree. This includes accessing student aid by completing the Free Federal Student Aid Application and Colorado State Financial Aid Application, as well as understanding credit cards and card debt. loans, homeownership and mortgages, retirement plans, investments and more.

“It is important to help students understand financial literacy,” said Katie Jarnot, assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction for schools in Eagle County. “Education and financial literacy are the foundation upon which the American Dream is built. It is imperative that students and parents understand that education, including financial literacy, enables students to pursue the lives and careers that interest them.

Current financial education in Eagle County spans all levels and covers a variety of areas, from math to social studies and everywhere in between. High school students already have a number of offers that touch on some of the topics the bill will impose.

This includes the opportunity to take business math, fully focused on financial literacy. It also includes economics courses, in which students are required to take half a credit to graduate from high school. All ninth graders are required to take a personal economics course, which Jarnot says fits the bill’s description.

These economics courses deepen the study and practice of micro and macroeconomics; use a resource called Everfi to learn and practice topics such as banking, credit cards, insurance, and higher education finance; and include an economic life plan in which students must budget and create a five to ten year plan that includes education, career, housing, transportation, insurance, savings, retirement plans. retirement and credit card spending. Everfi is made available to the district free of charge thanks to a donation from the Rabbit Family Foundation.

Students from elementary to high school all use the AVID program, a college and career preparatory program, in one way or another. AVID teaches students about various colleges, financial aid, and financial planning for post-secondary options. High school students spend a lot of class time on financial literacy, Jarnot says.

“By the time a student graduates from high school, I think our financial literacy program has given them a good foundation,” Jarnot said. “This knowledge moves from theory to practice once a student leaves high school, so learning doesn’t stop after graduation; it just becomes more self-directed by the individual.

The “great equalizer”

Student debt is a problem that disproportionately affects students of color. Based on Department of Education and Census data analyzed by BrookingsBlack students have $ 7,400 more in student debt than white graduates. This question is something that financial literacy seeks to equalize.

“Providing access to higher education and career options is an important part of the search for equity,” Jarnot said. “Ensuring that our students living in poverty have access to a strong financial future through financial literacy and higher education, including vocational and technical education, helps deliver on the promise of public education.” to be the “great equalizer”. “

Increasing access to and understanding of higher education and financial literacy is essential to equalize the chances of higher education.

“If we equip students with the knowledge to invest wisely in higher education, it can alleviate any fears or concerns that might otherwise cause them not to even consider the option,” Jarnot said. “Whether it’s a college or a technical or vocational school, investing in education beyond high school is an investment in one’s dreams and one’s future. Investments should be made wisely and prudently.

Staffing according to legislation

While Colorado’s new bill does little to change the way Eagle County teaches its financial literacy, it could change the way it allocates resources around it.

“The part of the bill that I find problematic is to legislate on how school districts make staffing decisions,” Jarnot said. “We see financial literacy as essential and it is built into our classes starting in kindergarten. If schools are required to have a class for all students, focusing solely on financial literacy, it requires dedicating staff funds for this purpose. This funding must be withdrawn from elsewhere.

For Jarnot, the legislation does not recognize the work already done by Eagle County. “Staffing through legislation almost always fails to fully understand the comprehensive efforts already in place at the local level, efforts tailored by local professional educators and community partners to meet the needs of the specific community,” he said. she declared.

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