General Treasurer Seth Magaziner today joined Senate Education Committee Chair Sandra Cano, House Deputy Whip Mia Ackerman, House Education Committee Chair Joseph McNamara, students and educators across the state to celebrate the passage of financial literacy legislation which, once signed into law, guarantees that all students in Rhode Island will receive financial literacy education prior to graduating high school.
"As a former public school teacher, I know that students need strong financial skills to build stable and successful lives," said General Treasurer Seth Magaziner. "I applaud the members of the General Assembly on the passage of this important legislation that guarantees access to personal finance education for all Rhode Island high schoolers."
The bill was introduced at the request of Treasurer Magaziner with the support and close collaboration of bill sponsors House Deputy Whip Mia Ackerman, House Education Chair Joseph McNamara, Senate Education Chair Sandra Cano, as well as financial literacy educators, students, and business leaders in the non-profit and banking sectors.
"How can we expect our children to become financially successful adults if we do not teach them the core aspects of our financial system when they are in school?" said Senator Cano, who chairs the Senate Education Committee. "This bill will ensure that our children leave the public school system with a firm and knowledgeable grasp on basic financial concepts that will help them succeed in their adult lives."
Thirty-seven states guarantee that their student receive financial literacy education; prior to the passage of this legislation Rhode Island did not. With the passage of this bill, Rhode Island ensures all high school students have access to standards-aligned personal finance instruction while also providing educators with high-quality resources and professional development.
"Many young people just don't understand the complexities of credit and debt ó what it means to have a mortgage that's under water, or how high interest rates can bury them in debt for their entire lives," said Representative Ackerman. "They don't understand that paying the minimum on their credit card bills will keep them paying forever."
In 2018, Treasurer Magaziner released "Fallen Behind," a report that shows the impacts of financial literacy. The report outlines that individuals who have completed a personal finance course are more likely to have higher credit scores and lower loan default rates; meet credit card payment obligations; demonstrate more effective management of personal debt; and achieve higher levels of personal savings as a proportion of income. These are skills that will ultimately help to ensure the Rhode Island workforce is equipped to succeed in a competitive economy.
"Rhode Island's college graduates have the second highest student debt burden in the country," said House Education Committee Chair Joseph McNamara. "Along with that, the state struggles with mortgage delinquency, retirement savings and unbanked households. We need to focus on consumer education in high school to ensure the financial future of our students."
Once signed into law, the legislation will be implemented by the RI Department of Education in preparation of the 2022- 2023 school year.