Education Committee Hears Testimony Today on Hamilton Bill to Require Student Financial Literacy

Rep. Ryan M. Hamilton represents Haverhill and Methuen. (WHAV News photograph.)

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The legislature’s Joint Committee on Education plans to hear testimony today on a bill filed by Methuen Rep. Ryan Hamilton to make financial literacy a high school graduation requirement.

The hearing takes place today, Jan. 10, at 1 p.m., at the State House, Hearing Room A-2. More than a dozen students have registered to testify in support, along with several banks, financial education providers, numerous educators and others. Appearing Monday on WHAV’s “Win for Breakfast” program, Hamilton said students may not be prepared for the decisions they will soon have to make.

“Whether it be credit cards, student loans, stocks, crypto, buying a house, renting an apartment, buying a car, we’re asking 18-year-olds when they’re in high school and leave high school to make a lot of financial decisions that just not really prepared for,” he said.

An Act relative to personal financial literacy would require all public high school students in the Commonwealth to complete a standalone financial literacy course prior to graduation. The bill also anticipates a Financial Literacy Trust Fund, which would provide money to underserved school districts and direct the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to create professional development training standards for educators.

Ryan’s office said, while Massachusetts often leads the nation in educational achievement, financial literacy remains a subject that many students miss out on. In 2023, it noted, Massachusetts received an “F” grade from the Center for Financial Literacy for its significant lack in teaching on personal finance.

Hamilton told WHAV listeners, the proposed legislation would change that. “If we pass it, we will be the 26th state and the United States to pass a financial literacy course.”

“The current patchwork system of courses on this topic furthers economic inequality in the Commonwealth, where underserved student populations are less likely to be exposed to financial literacy education at school or at home. By designating time in the classroom and experiential learning opportunities, Massachusetts can equip students, educators and parents with the knowledge and skills they need to better their financial futures,” Ryan’s office said.

The bill is backed by a coalition of supporters. Sean Simonini, founder of the Massachusetts Association of Student Representatives, said “Our generation has grown up with unprecedented access to financial information on the internet, but navigating that alone can leave young people prone to taking misleading or malicious advice on money management. In order to prepare the learners of today for financial security tomorrow, we need to ensure that every student receives a high-quality course in personal finance.”

Tim Ranzetta, co-founder of Next Gen Personal Finance, said “Our collaboration with thousands of educators across the state has made clear their eagerness to broaden access and their readiness to ensure the effective implementation of this transformative personal finance course.”

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