BATON ROUGE, LA – Louisiana public high school students could learn how to manage their finances, use credit wisely, and develop savings plans if Senate Bill 38 becomes law, according to State Treasurer John Kennedy. The bill, which has been pre-filed by 14 senators and 25 representatives, would amend the free enterprise curriculum in public schools to include personal finance instruction.

Debt among young people has been spreading like a disease over the past few years, and the number of credit card companies that target college students is outrageous, said Treasurer Kennedy. Reality doesn’t set in until students graduate with thousands of dollars of debt, and they start their first jobs using the bulk of their paychecks to pay their credit card bills.

In 2002, college students nationwide carried on average three credit cards and more than $2,300 worth of debt. In addition, once they graduated, they owed more than $20,000 to creditors when they combined their student loans with their credit card balances. University officials across the nation say they lose more students because of credit card debt than failing grades, and the number of bankruptcies for people under the age of 25 has increased 50 percent.

These statistics show that students are not learning the skills they need to manage their money wisely, said Treasurer Kennedy. They don’t realize that charging a pizza, concert tickets or a spring break trip today could mean ruining their credit and not qualifying for a new car or a new home tomorrow. How can Louisiana expect its young people to succeed when they are strapped with these financial burdens? This legislation will give high school students the tools they need so they wont fall into the debt trap and early bankruptcy.

Last year, 35,000 students in Louisiana took free enterprise courses from 500 teachers. The National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE), a non-profit foundation, is cooperating with the LSU Ag Center, Louisiana Bankers Association, Louisiana Credit Union League, Consumer Credit Counseling Service,credit reporting agencies, and other financial organizations to provide personal finance coursework and materials at no cost to the state and local school districts. The LSU Ag Center will provide free training to public school teachers, and Louisiana’s Jump$tart Coalition is raising $70,000 to provide $110 stipends for free enterprise teachers attending one-day training seminars.

Eighty-six percent of students who participated in the NEFE financial program walked away with a better understanding of finances and money. For more information on SB 38 or the NEFE program, log onto the Louisiana Department of the Treasury’s website at

Sarah Mulhearn
(225) 342-0012