To improve the financial health of students, 17 states have added personal finance requirements to school curriculums over the past five years. Three states – Missouri, Tennessee, and Utah – now require personal-finance courses. Last year, former President Bush appointed a President's Advisory Council on Financial Literacy. Local programs are sprouting, too.
The efforts target everyone from the underprivileged to senior citizens, but especially young people. In Orlando, the University of Central Florida held its first Financial Literacy Day last year. Representatives from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) answered questions on campus while students ate free pizza.
"To really shift how we think about personal finance and how we deal with it, we can educate adults," says Laura Levine, executive director of the Washington-based Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy. "But with young people, if we can catch them early, we can in fact change their path going into adulthood."