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January 4, 2011 > High school seniors get an 'F' for financial knowledge

High school seniors get an 'F' for financial knowledge

H&R Block offering grants

Submitted By Molly Toddy Rudy

According to the Federal Reserve, total U.S. household debt is $13.5 trillion. That amounts to $43,874 per U.S. resident. That kind of debt can lead to stress in almost any family. Unfortunately, this financial stress and parents' bad financial habits are often passed on to their children.

Parents report they understand the importance of talking to their teens about money, but less than one-third involve their teens in family budgeting. And in many cases, the subject isn't taught in school. Just half of U.S. states require any personal finance education before high school graduation. Not surprisingly, when tested on general financial knowledge, 50 percent of high school seniors receive an F. The issue affects millions of teens, and with more than one-third of high school graduates going directly into the workforce, the issue needs immediate attention.

"We educate our kids about the dangers of drugs and the importance of a healthy lifestyle, but as a culture we fail to educate them about money," said Dr. Brad Klontz, a financial psychologist and author of "Wired for Wealth" and "Mind Over Money" who works with H&R Block Dollars & Sense. "Teenagers need to be taught how to spend, save and give money responsibly now so they won't be vulnerable to making costly financial mistakes later."

H&R Block Dollars & Sense is helping change these statistics and increase teens' financial fitness by offering free personal finance curriculum to high schools nationwide. Through February 28, the company is offering $500,000 in curriculum grants and scholarships for the 2011-2012 school year. All U.S. high schools are eligible and it typically takes only 10 minutes for a teacher or school official to apply. Grant recipients receive interactive software and lesson plans that cover 18 real-world topics, such as managing a budget, handling taxes, avoiding credit card debt, saving, and investing. The best part? It's provided at no cost to the school and teens actually think the curriculum is fun.

"Teens need financial education, but parents tell us they don't know what to say to their kids about money, and schools often don't have the financial resources to provide additional classes," said Phil Mazzini, president of retail tax for H&R Block. "We created this program to help bridge the gap and increase teens' financial fitness one classroom at a time."

For more information or to apply for free curriculum, teachers can visit Applications are accepted through February 28. Beginning March 1, website visitors can vote to help select grant recipients.

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