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WASHINGTON-CUNA has written key lawmakers urging the designation of April as Financial Literacy for Youth Month. In March 24 letters to the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman and ranking members, CUNA President and CEO Dan Mica wrote, “The average American high school senior lacks a basic knowledge of personal financial affairs. A nationwide survey conducted in 1997 by the Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy examined the knowledge of 1,509 high school seniors. On average, survey respondents answered only 57 percent of the questions correctly, and only 5 percent of the respondents received a “C” grade or better.” Senate Resolution 48, sponsored by Senator Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii), a former Banking Committee member, would designate April 2003 as Financial Literacy for Youth Month and requests President George W. Bush to promote financial literacy by issuing a proclamation for schools, nonprofit organizations, businesses, government entities on the federal, state, and local levels, and citizens to observe the month with appropriate activities. In the letters, Mica also pointed to CUNA and credit unions’ work with the National Endowment for Financial Education to better educate high school students on financial matters. Through NEFE, CUNA provides schools with free workbooks on financial literacy and many credit unions have volunteered time to teach financial literacy courses. In the House, an identical resolution (H.Res. 127) was introduced by Congressman David Dreier (R-Calif.), which was referred to House Committee on Government Reform on March 5. The Senate Judiciary Committee reported the resolution to the full Senate favorably March 20. According to the resolutions, 55% of college students get their first credit card during their first year in college, and 83% of college students have at least one; 45% of college students are in credit card debt, with the average debt at $3,066; and just 26% of 13- to 21-year-olds reported that their parents taught them about money management.

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