Bill would make financial literacy course a requirement

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As millennials prepare for the job market and adulthood, learning about money management skills, loans and savings are imperative for their financial wellbeing.  

To help teens get a head start on these skills, Florida lawmakers have introduced two identical bills targeting financial literacy. They say their plan is to help students prepare as early as high school.

SB 114, filed by Sen. Travis Hutson, R- St. Augustine, and HB 73, sponsored by Reps. Heather Fitzenhagen, R-Fort Myers, and Elizabeth Fetterhoff, R-DeLand, would require all high school students in the state to take a one-half credit course focusing on "financial literacy or money management skills” in order to graduate.  

Under these bills, the financial literacy course will cover various topics including how to balance a checkbook, basic principles of credit scores, debt, loans and computing federal income taxes.  

SB 114, also known as the "Dorothy L. Hukill Financial Literacy Act," is named after Sen. Dorothy Hukill (R-Port Orange) who died in October after being diagnosed with cancer.

During spring 2018, Hukill sought to allow students to take at least a one-semester course of personal finance and money, but the bill never got to a full vote in the House.

Ahead of the 2019 session that begins in March, Hutson hopes to pass the bill in her honor.

According to the bill, the financial literacy course can be impactful for young people in the state who “graduate from high school without having basic financial literacy or money management skills.”

With an opportunity for students to learn about finance, senior business administration major Gabrielle Holland, who is learning more about finance in her studies, believes this bill will help students be more knowledgeable about money as they began adulthood.  

“As they become adults, they will be more informed when it comes to making financial decisions and knowing the right amount of loans to take out,” said Holland. “Also, [they will know] their spending limit of what they can and cannot afford.”

By proposing this bill, legislators hope to tackle the economic challenges people face nationwide.

According to the Federal Reserve, in October 2018, consumer debt in the U.S. rose 7.7 percent to $3.964 trillion, which surpassed a record of $3.938 trillion.

Holland also believes this bill will allow young people to gain a larger profit and become financially stable and independent.  

“This bill will impact students in a positive way because as they get older they will be more aware of their spending habits and how to increase their income,” said Holland.

As many millennials graduate high school and begin college, expenses including loans and debt can become challenging without any knowledge of money managing skills.

According to the U.S Census Bureau, millennials spend $600 billion in the U.S each year.  

By instilling skills including calculating interest rates and completing loan applications into student’s curriculum, they will be able to manage themselves better financially as an adult.  

If passed, the bill would take effect with students entering the ninth grade in the 2019-2020 academic school year.  

Also, Florida would be one of 17 states in the U.S to require a financial literacy course in order to receive a high school diploma.