Do you remember how you learned personal finance skills such as saving money, understanding the true cost of debt, or the implications of compound interest? Did you learn those competencies at home, at school or maybe even at church? Did you even learn them at all, and perhaps had to learn the hard way? For many, basic financial acumen is learned from observing their parents due to the absence of formal education. Thus, the likelihood of making the same mistakes as one’s parents is a real concern. Additionally, the personal finance climate is more complex than ever before, especially when you include the fact that more people are going to college and are relying on student loans in order to fund their education.
The Ohio Chamber’s Education and Workforce Development Committee considers financial literacy to be a public policy priority for the 132nd General Assembly. Our members have repeatedly informed us that employees facing personal finance crises at home often bring that baggage with them to work. This can affect their morale as well as productivity. It is disappointing to see, but in most cases you cannot blame the employee since they were likely not properly educated.
As a result of concerns raised by our members, the Ohio Chamber supports House Bill 108. HB 108 requires a full semester course on financial literacy to be completed by all Ohio high school graduates. Some school districts already offer financial literacy courses between grades K-12. However, the state does not require the subject to be tested so there is no consistency with the content or the rigor of the courses. HB 108 will ensure that the areas of personal finance, credit, debt investments and sound money management are taught more effectively.
Last week, Attorney General Mike DeWine released a report including several recommendations generated by his Student Loan Debt Advisory Group. This group was originally formed by the attorney general in response to complaints related to student loan collection practices of third parties as well as his office. However, the 17-member advisory group went beyond the issue of student loan debt collection and issued 22 comprehensive recommendations that also included institutional debt certification policies and financial literacy education. In fact, to the pleasure of the Ohio Chamber, the first recommendation in the report states that “all Ohio high school students should receive one semester of financial literacy education.”
The Ohio Chamber is hopeful that the report issued will add some weight to what our members have already been saying and encourage the legislature to move swiftly in passing HB 108.