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How helpful are high school finance classes?

As Americans attempt to recover from the Great Recession and its accompanying flood of personal bankruptcy claims, more borrowers are considering how to prevent a similar economic downturn in the future. A key component of national financial responsibility is personal financial responsibility, according to most experts. A large group of advocates is now pushing for increased financial education in high school, a move that could grow a generation of fiscally responsible adults.

Legislation in 2010 called the Dodd-Frank Act established the Office of Financial Education to provide more access to information for disadvantaged borrowers. This move has been echoed in the education community, with 44 states implementing "personal finance" into high school curricula. Mandatory finance classes could teach students about money management, lending practices and consumer rights in a controlled environment.

Although this seems like a step in the right direction at first blush, many experts say that financial education in high schools simply does not work. In fact, the classes have been shown to have no impact on students' future financial decisions and performance. In fact, newly released information shows that simply adding an extra math class to a curriculum can change students' likelihood of falling into financial difficulties. The mandatory personal finance classes have almost no impact on young people's ability to maintain financial solvency.

Students who have stronger overall decision-making abilities and cognitive capacity are generally more likely to make better financial decisions, based on existing research. By adding a math class, the American education system could help the estimated 20 percent of Americans who will not be able to afford a reasonable retirement.

No matter your educational experience, you could be vulnerable to credit and money problems depending on your life circumstances. Do not allow a small issue to balloon into an irreparable problem; contact a local bankruptcy attorney to find out more about your legal and financial options.

Source:  www.forbes.com, "Can good financial behavior be taught in high school?" Anna Secino, May. 30, 2013

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