Letters to Congress 8

Letters to Congress

Letter to Senator Paul Sarbanes regarding financial literacy

September 5, 2002

The Honorable Paul S. Sarbanes
United States Senate
309 Senate Hart Building
Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Senator Sarbanes:

Congratulations on your hearing today focusing on the importance of financial literacy among college students. America's credit unions, which count more than 82 million consumer-members--including a large contingent of college students--are pleased to stand with you and the efforts of your committee to draw more attention to this important subject.

As you may know, credit unions have been making substantial progress in financial literacy efforts among America's young people before they become college students. Through a partnership with the National Endowment for Financial Education, and the USDA's Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service, the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) and state credit union leagues have for the past two years sponsored the High School Financial Planning Program (HSFPP). The HSFPP introduces teens to basic personal finance concepts and demonstrates how they apply to everyday life. Through CUNA's involvement, The HSFPP (including materials) is offered free of charge to participating schools and other groups across the nation.

This past school year, credit union involvement has made a difference in the lives of more than 75,000 students nationwide--115 percent of our goal for the entire school year. In fact, it's an increase of 131 percent over credit union-inspired student involvement in the previous school year. Additionally, more than 750 schools nationwide were involved in the program, an increase of 82 percent from the previous year.

Credit unions across the country have stepped up to the challenge of teaching personal finance to high school students with this superior tool. For many of these teenagers, it's their last chance of getting basic financial survival skills before going out on their own as consumers. Certainly, this program is proving to be of substantial aid to these young people as they enter the world of higher education in the college ranks.

We expect to do even more in the school year that has just begun. Through this program, CUNA and credit unions have set a goal of reaching 100,000 students in 1,000 schools. It's an ambitious annual increase of 33 percent, but credit unions have shown that they are remarkably adept at promoting and supporting this program. With the help of Cooperative Extension Service educators, credit unions will be a growing positive influence on tomorrow's young consumers.

Mr. Chairman, we strongly believe that our goal through these efforts is the same as yours through today's hearing--to shine a light on the momentous value of improving financial literacy of our nation's youth, and to take the needed steps to make that happen. America's credit unions pledge our continuing support for your work in this area.

Sincerely, Daniel A. Mica
President and CEO

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