not all be concerned with a student’s individual failure, Americans simply cannot afford to ignore
the wider systemic economic failures that are caused in part by financial illiteracy.219
In sum, there are many challenges to providing a financial education to America’s youth,
but these challenges must be faced head-on if Americans are to avoid the consequences of
financial illiteracy.220 The school system is already designed to provide an education; a financial
education is such a critical component of our survival and success that it rightfully belongs as a
required subject in America’s schools.221 Unfortunately, there is no structured educational
platform for mandating the dissemination of financial information to American adults, though a
range of financial education options exist for Americans willing to seek them out.222 If Congress
institutes comprehensive financial education now, hopefully America can turn the financial
illiteracy problem around in a generation.223
The ability to understand and manage money is critical to meeting one’s basic needs, and
supporting one’s ability to do more than just survive. Undoubtedly, the tools for the smart use of
something so basic to our existence should be given far more attention and be better incorporated
into American education. The failure to provide a basic financial education has resulted in
widespread financial illiteracy, particularly since America’s financial landscape entered into a
period of rapid change beginning in the 1980s.224 The result of this failure has and will continue
to lead, to the loss of talented human capital and ultimately to economic crisis.225
The current solutions, including the legislation and the tools offered primarily to adults as
discussed throughout this article, expand access to financial education materials and fund projects
to help find new solutions.226 To ensure a financially literate society we must teach financial
populations. This divergence between more complex consumer decisions and financial illiteracy has led to a
rising trend of suboptimal, often unsustainable consumer behaviors, resulting in record-high levels of debt and
record low-levels of economic security for individuals, families and communities throughout the nation.
Id. Harnisch acknowledges that low-income and minority populations are the hardest hit by financial illiteracy, but goes on to propose
that college is the best place to provide a financial education. Id. While the number of students attending college is increasing, these
population groups are underrepresented in American colleges and universities. HUSSAR & BAILEY, supra note 146, at 23. Although the
percentage of students enrolled in is steadily increasing, there are still segments of the population that lag behind, particularly
Asian/Pacific Islanders, American Indian/Alaska Natives, African-Americans, and Hispanics. Id. But see Harnisch, supra note 28.
Given the recognized need for increased financial literacy and improved consumer behavior, policymakers have
focused on mandating financial education and consumer economics curricula in primary and secondary schools,
but inconclusive or null results in financial literacy tests have led some to reconsider this approach. Valid
concerns remain that students do not pay attention to or retain these lessons because many of them are not
financially independent and do not make key financial decisions at that point in their lives. Further, financial
education as a stand-alone measure at the K- 12 level may not be enough to match the complexities and rapidly
changing nature of the 21st century marketplace.
Id. at 2.
219 Financial Literacy Hearing, supra note 23.
220 See FIN. LITERACY & EDUC. COMM’N, supra note 25, at 83-84.
222 PRESIDENT’S ADVISORY COUNCIL ON FIN. CAPABILITY, supra note 4, at 3.
223 Id. at 3-4. This language and goal is taken from First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! campaign. Learn the Facts, LET’S
MOVE!, http://www.letsmove.gov/learn-facts/epidemic-childhood-obesity (last visited Nov. 11, 2013) (“Let’s Move! is a
comprehensive initiative, launched by the First Lady, dedicated to solving the challenge of childhood obesity within a generation, so
that children born today will grow up healthier and able to pursue their dreams.”). America could set the same goal, to solve the
financial illiteracy problem within a generation through federal government action to get financial education into schools nationwide.
224 See Harnisch, supra note 28, at 8.
225 See PRESIDENT’S ADVISORY COUNCIL ON FIN. CAPABILITY, supra note 4 (discussing the importance of human capital to the
226 See id. at 6-8.