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Virginia adds financial literacy program for high schoolers

Virginia is the latest state to mandate a class in financial education as it is now requiring incoming high school freshman to take a one credit course outlining the basics of economics and personal finance.

Other states, including Missouri, Utah and Tennessee, already require such a class, USAToday.com reports. Maryland’s legislature recently introduced similar legislation while many other states are requiring teachers to intertwine personal finance lessons with existing curriculae.

Non-profit organizations and financial institutions have been pushing for ways to keep the younger generation from making financial mistakes that could have lasting effects in their post-college years.

Since its debut in 2004, the “Money Matters: Make it Count” partnership between the Boys & Girls Clubs of America and the Charles Schwab Foundation has provided financial literacy lessons to more than 245,000 younger students, USAToday.com reports.

At the college level, efforts are being made to include personal finance courses in four year curricula, such as at Champlain College in Burlington, Vt.,  where students must complete an eight part course in personal finance before being able to schedules classes for the next semester.

Teachers are also getting educated on how to lecture on topics such as risk management and debt, according to USAToday.com.

Laura Levine, the executive director of the non-profit Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Finance Literacy, said the need to address financial education isn't new, but that it hasn't been a high priority, USAToday.com reports.

The real wake-up call for many, Levine said, came in 2008.

"It might be one of the silver linings of the recession that this has been front and center on people's minds," Levine said, according to USAToday.com.  

According to a report from the University of Arizona, college students who used one credit card to pay off another increased by 26 percent after the recession.

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