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Should College Students Be Required to Take a Course inPersonal Finance?/articles/should-college-students-be-required-to-take-a-course-in-personal-finance-1489975500Americans don’t score well in financial literacy, and instruction in personal finance is limited in high school.Illustration: Kevin Van Aelst for The Wall Street JournalUpdated March 19, 2017 10:37 p.m. ETBeing knowledgable about money management, budgeting and finance is no guarantee of success in life.But ignorance about such concepts often comes at great cost.When it comes to financial literacy, however, the U.S. gets a failing grade at least by one count. The U.S. ranked14th in a 2015 global study conducted by Standard & Poor’s Ratings Group and others, with a financial literacy rateof 57%.One solution would be to have colleges require students to take a personal-finance course. Would that help? Twoexperts weigh in.Annamaria Lusardi, Denit Trust chair of economics and accountancy at the George Washington University School ofBusiness, argues that for people to survive and thrive in today’s financial environment, knowledge of personalfinance is a necessity, and that requiring college students to take personal-finance courses begins to fill the gap.Lauren E. Willis, professor of law and Rains senior research fellow at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, looks atreasons why such courses shouldn’t be required, topped by what she says is a lack of evidence that they are
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effective.YES: Ignorance Carries a High PriceBy Annamaria LusardiThink about driving. To ensure orderly traffic, we create speed limits and roadway rules. We erect signs to warnwhere turns are difficult or roads are treacherous. And before we allow someone behind the wheel, we make surethey understand the basics. That’s where a driver’s license comes in. We take those precautions to protect thedrivers and to protect others.It is time to extend that type of thinking to financial knowledge by making personal finance a required course at U.S.colleges and universities. For people—especially young people—to survive and thrive in today’s financialenvironment, knowledge of personal finance is a necessity.We’re already seeing what happens when young adults juggle high-impact financial decisions without the benefit offinancial knowledge. Take the well-known burden of student-loan debt. Student loans are the second-largest part ofthe consumer credit market, after mortgages. The lion’s share of that debt sits in the hands of millennials—and ourresearch shows they worry about their ability to pay off those loans. As well they should. The default rate on studentloans is sobering.

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