Every Rhode Islander deserves the opportunity to achieve financial security, and the road to long-term economic success begins with providing students with an education in financial literacy. That’s why we are thrilled with recent passage of our legislation guaranteeing every Rhode Island high schooler has the knowledge they need to face big financial decisions thoughtfully and confidently.
In each of our individual lives we’ve seen the tremendous impact personal finance education can have on youth. When he started his career as a public school teacher, Treasurer Seth Magaziner taught financial literacy to students to ensure they formed strong instincts for budgeting and saving at a young age. As an immigrant, Sen. Sandra Cano used her financial literacy skills to build a career in financial services, empowering those with similar experiences. Preparing youth for the world has long been an issue of importance for Rep. Mia Ackerman, who served as a mentor to the Cumberland Youth Committee and created a Youth Advisory Board to enhance student engagement.
The fact of the matter is, too many young people do not receive personal finance instruction in school. Now, Rhode Island has become the thirty-eighth state to guarantee access to personal finance education. The need is obvious, overwhelming and growing.
The average Rhode Island borrower has over $36,000 in student loans, $16,000 in credit card debt and does not have six months’ worth of savings to cover expenses in the event they lose their job. This is holding the state back from economic growth and financial security, often not allowing Rhode Islanders the ability to buy a home or build retirement plans. It leads to the overuse of high-rate credit cards and payday loans that further trap individuals into a debt cycle.
In 2018, the Office of the General Treasurer published “Fallen Behind,” a report that shows individuals who have completed a personal finance course are more likely to have higher credit scores and lower loan default rates; better manage personal debt; and achieve higher levels of personal savings as a proportion of income. Providing students with the knowledge and skills they need to successfully navigate complex financial decisions is not only the path to personal financial empowerment, but also helps to ensure the workforce is equipped to succeed in a competitive economy.
This new law will be instrumental in helping youth of the state learn the fundamentals of savings and investing, so we can send them out into the real world with the tools necessary to navigate a complex financial landscape.
Rhode Island is building a brighter future that invests in local talent, brings in growing, cutting edge economies, and empowers its people to reach financial security and thrive over the long-term. We thank our community partners who have stood alongside us in fighting for Rhode Island students, who we are setting on the path to long-term financial success.
Seth Magaziner, Rhode Island General Treasurer
Sen. Sandra Cano, Senate Education Committee Chair
District 8 - Pawtucket
Rep. Mia Ackerman, House Deputy Whip
District 45 - Cumberland, Lincoln