Utah Teens Lack Financial Education

Utah Teens Lack Financial Education

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Kim Johnson ReportingUtah teens are not ready to take on the financial world. A new survey shows they lack money sense, even though many of them are earning money. Now a concerted effort is underway to get them ready for our financially complex world.

Jordan High students are learning about money through an outreach program sponsored by The Jumpstart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy.

Jodi Mitchell is the chair of that coalition, and says she's continually surprised how little Utah teens know.

Jodi Mitchell: "You would think they would know about the interest that goes along with the credit card, that that's not just free money.”

Gay Quinn, Teacher, Jordan High: "They're going out into the world completely unprepared. They have no idea what things cost, have no idea what credit costs, how expensive it is to have credit cards."

The jumpstart Coalition recently surveyed more than 4,000 high school students nationwide. Utah teens answered roughly 49 percent of the questions correctly, three percent less than their national counterparts.

Amy Souter, Student: “All I know is to save money. That’s all my parents teach me about saving money. But I really don’t know much.

Gay Quinn, Teacher, Jordan High: “I think school assumes parents are teaching it. I think parents assume school is teaching it. And in the meantime the teaching is falling through the cracks, and it’s not happening.”

Outreach programs aim to change that and at least one teen says he's grateful for the help.

Josh Blodgett, Student: “I graduate this summer, and I think this class has given me a lot of good information I can use through college and in life.”

And while Utah teens aren't as financially primed as their national peers, they're at least on track to catch up. In those pilot classes, students are learning the basics of money management, budgeting, investing and consumer awareness.

Last year the jumpstart coalition persuaded lawmakers to require financial literacy education in all Utah high schools by 2008. Already nine Utah high schools have pilot programs up and running.

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