Cordray: 'We Want to See Financial Education Topics Integrated Into School Curricula'

Susan Jones | October 24, 2013 | 9:42am EDT
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President Obama names Richard Cordray as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. (AP File Photo)

( - "Financial education in schools is critical, but enormous benefits also exist if the education starts at home," Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Director Richard Cordray told a meeting of the Financial Literacy and Education Commission at the Treasury Department Wednesday.

"We want to see financial education topics integrated into school curricula. We believe this education should begin at a young age and continue through graduation," Cordray said.

"I was down in New Orleans Monday morning arguing to the American Bankers Association that bankers should be going to their state legislatures and their state governors and insisting that financial education be taught in our schools."

Cordray noted that earlier this year, the CFPB released policy recommendations for youth financial education starting in kindergarten and continuing through the end of high school.

(Among other things, CFPB recommends that states strongly consider including a stand-alone personal financial management course as a graduation requirement for high school students. It also advocates that financial management questions be added to standardized assessments.)

Cordray said personal financial management should be mastered by parents as well: "Research has demonstrated that if parents engage their children by establishing a savings account for them, the children are seven times more likely, all other things being equal, to attend college than those without a savings account."

"We want to see every youth, regardless of income, develop financial skills and access services that will help them better navigate the complex financial marketplace. We are particularly looking towards summer youth employment programs as a way to engage youth, teach them about financial services and provide them with opportunities to practice new skills by working with financial partners."

Cordray said the goal of his agency is to "give all consumers the confidence and peace of mind that the financial world is not full of pitfalls that will ruin their lives. The best and most immediate form of consumer protection is self-protection, being able to avoid problems in the first place and to know what you can do about it when you do experience a problem."

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