By Commissioner Pam Stewart
In Florida’s classrooms, we encourage students to dream big. But far too often our young graduates find that they don’t have the financial knowledge or resources to make their dreams a reality. A recent nationwide survey discovered that less than half of high school seniors had a general understanding of credit, savings, insurance and retirement.
Preparing students for today’s global economy means teaching them how to be successful inside and outside the classroom through comprehensive financial literacy education. A 2011 Charles Schwab survey found that on average, college graduates expect to earn $25,000 more than the nation’s actual average starting salary. With these unrealistic expectations, students can find themselves with more debt than they have the capability of repaying; or become discouraged from pursuing higher education or the career of their choice.
This week I was able to work with other education leaders during the 2013 Florida Financial Literacy Summit in Tampa on how we can successfully include personal finance instruction in our local schools. The Florida Council on Economic Education has been instrumental in statewide efforts to help students develop strong financial skills and show them how the financial decisions they make today can influence their lives for years to come.
Thanks to our partnership with the council and other organizations, we are working with school districts to put financial planning tools in the hands of Florida’s students. One resource available to students is the department’s “Navigating Your Financial Future” website, featuring debt calculators, loan eligibility wizards and other helpful information for students and their parents.
Students with developed financial skills are more likely to achieve greater financial security and become powerful economic engines to Florida’s competitive economy.