illiteracy problem well before the housing bubble burst and began taking steps to remediate it.153
Legislation was passed to increase the amount and quality of existing financial education
endeavors and to start studying the problem so that new strategies could be developed.154 Also,
as previously discussed, The Excellence in Education Act of 2002 focused on educating students
in economics and personal finance.155 The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003
(“FACTA”)156 established FLEC,157 which has since been active in researching and developing
solutions to the financial literacy problem.158 Furthermore, the Financial Literacy and Education
Improvement Act became Title V of the FACTA Act.159 Unfortunately, the reports analyzed thus
far demonstrate that such efforts have in many ways fallen short of the mark, as Americans still
struggle to answer fundamental finance questions or make sound financial decisions.160 More
must be done.
III. LEAVING FINANCIAL EDUCATION TO PARENTS CREATES FINANCIAL INEQUALITY
“Who would you want to be giving you advice? Somebody who doesn’t have any money?”161
“If you’re financially responsible, your children have a much better chance to grow up
There is little disagreement that expanded access to financial education is necessary and
should start at a young age because it takes time to instill concepts for lifetime application.163
Nevertheless, there is no uniform agreement about how to accomplish that task.164 While a
number of programs exist to help educate Americans in personal finance,165 such programs and
their curricula are mostly optional.166 Many public and private schools at all levels provide
limited financial education, but the primary goal of financial education proponents seems to be
for parents to voluntarily train themselves in financial concepts so that their knowledge trickles
down to their children.167 This is hopeful at best, and marginalizing at worst, as not everyone
153 Dinwoodie, supra note 24, at 202-03. For example, the Excellence in Education Act was passed in 2002 to increase the focus on
economics and finance in schools. 20 U.S.C.A. § 7267a (West 2013).
154 Dinwoodie, supra note 24, at 202-03.
155 20 U.S.C.A. § 7267a.
156 Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003, Pub. L. No. 108-159, Title V, 117 Stat. 1952.
157 20 U.S.C.A § 9702.
(a) IN GENERAL.—There is established a commission to be known as the ‘Financial Literacy and Education
(b) PURPOSE.—The Commission shall serve to improve the financial literacy and education of persons in the
United States through development of a national strategy to promote financial literacy and education.
Id. § 9702(a)-(b)
158 See generally FIN. LITERACY & EDUC. COMM’N, supra note 25, at v-xv (laying out the Commission’s work over the last few years).
159 Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003, Pub. L. No. 108-159, Title V, 117 Stat. 1952.
160 FINRA INVESTOR EDUC. FOUND., supra note 12, at 5, 17-18.
161 Suze Orman, Money Quotes, BRAINY QUOTE,
http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/s/suze_orman_2.html#2PvqZvb Ts0PYTHLH. 99 (last visited Nov. 11, 2013).
163 See PRESIDENT’S ADVISORY COUNCIL ON FIN. CAPABILITY, supra note 4, at 7 (“Eighty-two percent of Americans and eighty-nine
percent of teachers think personal finance should be taught to all students at least as early as high school.”).
164 See id. at 3.
165 See id. (discussing the range of options available to adult learners). Examples of such programs include the National Endowment
for Financial Education, the Native Financial Education Initiative, NYBA Financial Education Initiative, and the Clinton Global
166 See Brent Hunsberger, Oregon’s Stronger K- 12 Financial Literacy Standards Still Aren’t Ideal, OREGONIAN (Sept. 6, 2012),
http://www.oregonlive.com/finance/index.ssf/2012/09/oregons_stonger_k-12_financial.html (asserting that seeking financial
knowledge is mostly voluntary in the United States).
167 See FIN. LITERACY & EDUC. COMM’N, supra note 25, at 6.