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Intersections: Spring 2004

Keys to Financial Success Course

Keys to Financial Success ImageAccording to a survey conducted in 1998 by USA Weekend, 42 percent of teenagers surveyed thought they would be making $75,000 by age 30. In that same year, the average salary for a 30-year-old was about $27,000. Nellie Mae, a national provider of student loans, reports that the average college student has more than $2,300 in credit card debt.

To better equip young people with the knowledge necessary to have strong financial futures, the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia is seeking Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware high schools interested in introducing a semester-long financial education course called Keys to Financial Success. In cooperation with the University of Delaware Center for Economic Education and Entrepreneurship, the Delaware Bankers Association, and the Consumer Credit Counseling Services of Maryland and Delaware, the Philadelphia Fed started the Keys course in one Delaware high school in 2001-02. Since then, the course has been extended to many other schools across the state and will be offered in more than 20 high schools in Delaware in 2004-05.

The Keys course, which was designed by the University of Delaware Center, includes five units: Future Financial Goals and the Decision Making Process; Career Planning-Investments in Human Capital; Money Management; Consumer Skills; and Risk Protection. Students learn important life skills, such as budgeting, borrowing, saving, and investing. The program includes pre- and post-testing of students, quarterly roundtable meetings for teachers, and the complete curriculum package designed with state standards in economics and personal finance in mind. Teachers are provided, free of charge, with one week of training, a complete copy of the National Council on Economic Education's Financial Fitness for Life curriculum, and a binder that includes the suggested day-to-day lessons for the entire course. Schools commit to offer at least one section of the course per year but decide which department within their school will teach the course and where the course will appear in their schedule. Keys can be easily adapted from the semester format to a full-year course or block schedule and is designed to provide schools with a complete course ready for use in the high-school classroom.

Pennsylvania and New Jersey high schools interested in learning more about the Keys course should contact Andrew Hill, Ph.D. (andrew.hill@phil.frb.org) at 215-574-4392.

Interested high schools in Delaware should contact Barbara Emery (emeryb@lerner.udel.edu) at the University of Delaware Center for Economic Education and Entrepreneurship at 302-831-4622.

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