Introduction of the Young Americans Financial Literacy Act

Floor Speech

Date: April 25, 2023
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. CARSON. Mr. Speaker, today I am pleased to re-introduce the Young Americans Financial Literacy Act. Financial literacy is critical to ensuring future financial responsibility. Studies have shown that 88 percent of Americans believe financial education should be taught in schools, and 92 percent of K-12 teachers believe financial education should be taught in school. Still, only 12 percent of teachers teach the subject. Yet, according to a 2020 survey, less than half of states require high school students to take a personal finance course, and less than 17 percent of high school students were required to take a semester-long personal finance course.

Congress has an opportunity and a responsibility to address the pressing needs of individuals faced with losing their financial stability and the challenges of economic uncertainty. This should include financial literacy education reform and long-term solutions to prevent future personal financial disasters. Research-based financial literacy education programs are needed to reach individuals at all ages and socioeconomic levels, particularly those facing unique and challenging financial situations, such as high school graduates entering the workforce, soon-to-be and recent college graduates, young families, and to address the unique needs of military personnel and their families. High school and college students exposed to cumulative financial education show an increase in financial knowledge, which drives increasingly responsible behavior as they become young adults.

According to the Government Accountability Office, giving Americans the information they need to make effective financial decisions can be critical to their well-being and the country's economic health. The global financial crisis, when many borrowers failed to understand the risks associated with certain financial products fully and currently, the economic hardships presented by the sudden disruptions caused by the spread of COVID-19, underscore the need to improve individuals' financial literacy and empower all Americans to make informed financial decisions. This is especially true for young people as they earn their first paychecks, secure student aid, and establish financial independence. Therefore, focusing on economic education, financial literacy efforts, and best practices for young people between the ages of 8 and 24 is of utmost importance.

America should lead the world with the best-educated students who- will drive our-economic innovation and success, so please join me in cosponsoring the Young Americans Financial Literacy Act. This act:

Establishes a grant program in the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection to develop and implement financial literacy programs for young people ages eight to twenty-four;

Incentivizes the development of partnerships between institutions of higher education, local educational agencies, non-profit organizations, and financial institutions to develop programs aimed at young Americans in different phases of their life;

Ensures the development of evidence-based instructional material that is geared towards targeted groups and addresses unique life situations, including bankruptcy, foreclosure, student loans, credit card misuse; and

Conducts ongoing assessment and accountability of the program over the short- and long-term to ensure that grant money achieves the most significant impact.

I urge all of my colleagues to join me in supporting the Young Americans Financial Literacy Act.