TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senators Paul A. Sarlo and Joseph F. Doria which would establish a pilot program to provide instruction to high school seniors on personal finance was unanimously approved today by the Senate Education Committee.
“While we take great pains in New Jersey to ensure that our students are proficient in basic academics before graduation, they often lack the life lessons needed to be responsible adults,” said Senator Sarlo, D-Bergen, Essex and Passaic. “So many of our State’s young adults face mountains of credit card debt and other financial setbacks which remain on their credit reports long after their initial mistakes are made. We need to do more in our schools to better equip graduating students to deal with the complexities of personal finance.”
The bill, s-2101, would require the Commissioner of Education to establish a three-year pilot program for high school seniors to receive instruction on financial literacy in selected school districts. The Commissioner would select two districts in each of the southern, central and northern regions of the State. The districts chosen would represent a cross section of urban, suburban and rural districts.
“We recognize through this legislation that personal financial decisions vary based on were you were brought up, but the one constant is that kids make mistakes with money,” said Senator Doria, D-Hudson, a member of the Senate Education panel. “We want to see how financial literacy instruction will benefit kids across the board, so that we can move forward with the best program to prepare our kids for adulthood.”
Under the bill, the Commissioner would design the financial literacy curriculum in consultation with the Department of Banking and Insurance, and would be required to submit a report to the Governor and Legislature at the conclusion of the program, to consider whether it should be adopted on a permanent basis.
“I’m hopeful that at the end of the pilot program, we’re going to see real results, with students who know how to balance a checkbook and make wise decisions about credit cards,” said Senator Sarlo. “Not every kid is lucky enough to have a strong financial support system, and we want to help them avoid getting into financial trouble before they can’t dig themselves out.”
“I can see this program serving a real need in our State’s public schools,” said Senator Doria. “Ultimately, public education should prepare our kids to be self-sufficient, productive adults. By including financial literacy in the instruction we give our kids, we can give them a leg up on life beyond the classroom.”
The bill now heads to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee for consideration, before going to the full Senate for approval.