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Council on Economic Education, bankers advocate for "money course"

Should students statewide be required to take a semester-long course in financial literacy?

The Florida Bankers Association, the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta and the Florida Council on Economic Education think so -- and they hope state lawmakers will agree.

The groups held a press conference Friday to build support for a so-called "money course."

"Our economy depends on the ability of young Floridians to responsibly manage and grow their money into adulthood," said Mike Bell, of the Florida Council on Economic Education. "Requiring the money course to be taught as a half-credit course in high school will keep Florida competitive and grow our economy."

Earlier this year, Florida lawmakers passed legislation requiring public high schools to teach financial literacy principles in their economics courses. The bill, SB 1076, also required state education officials to consider creating a separate, one-half credit course dedicated entirely to the topic.

Experts, including state Education Commissioner Pam Stewart and Senate Education Committee Chairman John Legg, got together to discuss the idea in August. The state Department of Education is currently drafting recommendations.

The Florida Council on Economic Education says a "money course" is the clear way to go.

The council found that students in states with required financial literacy courses were more likely to save money and pay off their credit cards.

What's more, said Bell, the "money course" would be economical.

"There is a ready availability of partners, resources and trainings so that a course in financial literacy, the money course, can be implemented at little to no cost to local school districts," he said.