High School Financial Literacy Program
Dear Superintendents, and Leaders of Charter Schools and Collaboratives:
Financial literacy is quickly becoming an essential tool for high school students to compete effectively in today's world. Today, more than ever, students need to become financially literate to avoid credit and debt problems and plan for an economically stable and prosperous future.
As you may know, last spring, the Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs & Business Regulation in partnership with the Department of Education, launched the Massachusetts Financial Literacy Initiative (HiFi). HiFi is a voluntary, free high school financial literacy program that provides free materials from the National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE). Consumer Affairs is offering free training seminars for educators at various locations across the state this spring, 2006 and teachers can earn 10 PDPs towards recertification for completion of the training.
The national savings rate fell into negative territory for the first time since the Great Depression. The Commerce Department reported that Americans' personal savings rate fell to minus 0.5 percent in 2005. This means that people not only spent all of their after-tax income last year but also had to dip into previous savings or increase borrowing.
The cost of college has almost doubled in 20 years. From 1985/1986 to 2005/2006, tuition, fees and room and board at public colleges rose 78% from $6,825 to $12,127. At private colleges, the increase was 81% during the same period from $16,026 to $29,026. As a result, the number of students graduating with more than $25,000 in load debt has tripled since the early 1990s.
Average credit card debt for college students is $2327, with 21% carrying between $3,000-$7,000 and another 6% carrying more than $7,000.
The financial challenges facing today's students are many and complex. Providing them financial planning training will help them navigate the financial channels and make informed financial decisions that will positively affect their futures.
To become part of this exciting program, please go to www.mass.gov/hifi/ to register online or get more information. We appreciate your support of this important and inspiring endeavor and look forward to including each city and town across the Commonwealth.
|David P. Driscoll|
Commissioner of Education
|Janice S. Tatarka|
Director, Office of Consumer Affairs