This afternoon, two financial literacy bills introduced at the request of Treasurer Magaziner's office, Senate Bill No. 349 and House Bill No. 5491, were heard in the Senate and House Education Committees, and the Senate voted the bill to the floor for consideration. These bills would help ensure all Rhode Island students receive personal finance instruction before graduating from high school.
"When Rhode Islanders learn personal financial skills early on in life, it leads to better outcomes and sets them up for financial success in adulthood," said Rhode Island General Treasurer Seth Magaziner. "These bills would help ensure schools have the resources they need to provide personal financial instruction to every student, so upon graduation, every Rhode Island student is equipped with the skills they need to access economic opportunity throughout their lives."
The Treasurer's office collaborated with Senate Education Committee Chair Sandra Cano, House Deputy Whip Mia Ackerman, financial literacy educators, students, and leaders in the non-profit and banking sectors to write this legislation, which will help ensure schools have the resources they need to provide personal financial instruction to every student. The legislation will require all high schools to offer a personal finance class for all students; require students to demonstrate proficient personal finance skills; and directs the Rhode Island Department of Education to provide a list of resources to districts, teachers, and students offering personal finance instruction.
"This bill would ensure that personal finance education is offered equitably to every student, regardless of where they go to school," said Senate Education Committee Chair Sandra Cano. "We must provide Rhode Island students an equal opportunity to learn the tools they need to make smart personal finance decisions and achieve economic success as adults."
"Personal finance education prepares students to be smart consumers and sets them up for success," said Deputy Whip Mia Ackerman. "Students who receive personal finance instruction early on are more likely to have higher credit scores and higher lifetime personal income, contributing to more financial opportunity over the course of their lives."
Rhode Island is currently one of only a handful of states that do not require personal financial instruction in its public schools. Not coincidentally, Rhode Island has some of the highest student loan debt burdens, rate of unbanked households, and mortgage delinquency rates in the U.S. Equipping Rhode Island students early on with the financial skills they need to manage their personal finances successfully will help ensure Rhode Islanders do not become victim to predatory financial lending schemes, and will bolster the state's economic success as a whole.
Treasurer Magaziner has long prioritized financial empowerment initiatives to arm Rhode Islanders with the tools they need to succeed financially. Every quarter, his office convenes a Financial Empowerment roundtable, where representatives from government, non-profits, education, business, and banking share ideas on how to promote financial education and empowerment statewide. The Treasurer's office has worked with schools across the state to increase personal finance instruction offerings, and today's legislation will help ensure schools have the resources they need to make this type of instruction available for every student.
Video of the Treasurer's testimony in favor of this legislation can be viewed here.