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Senate Seeks to Improve Financial Literacy

Wednesday, October 1, 2003

The Consumer Federation of America (CFA) released a new survey on July 28, which showed that most Americans have little or poor knowledge about credit reports and credit scores. The survey found that only 25 percent of Americans knew their credit score, with minority populations, young adults and those of low or moderate income the least knowledgeable. Three recent bills have been introduced to change this.

Sens. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and Michael Enzi, R-Wyo., introduced a bill (S. 1532) to establish the Financial Literacy Commission. If enacted, the legislation would establish one central location—most likely, a web site and toll-free number—where consumers could access a range of consumer information and financial literacy programs currently offered by at least 16 branches of the federal government.

The Senate Banking Committee's ranking member, Sen. Paul Sarbanes, D-Md., and Sen. Jon Corzine, D-N.J., introduced a bill (S. 1470) to establish the Financial Literacy and Education Coordinating Committee. If enacted, the legislation would create a committee within the Treasury to better coordinate financial information offered by various levels of government as well as the private sector.

Corzine also introduced the Youth Financial Literacy Act (S. 1181) to make youth financial education a priority in our schools. If enacted, $100 million in grants would be distributed to states for teacher preparation and the development and implementation of financial-education programs in elementary and secondary schools.