Living with credit

S. Dakota offers credit literacy to high schoolers

Emily Crone

In high school, I always hated learning things that weren’t practical. I constantly asked my teachers to provide real-life examples of how I could apply things. Most of all, it frustrated me that my senior year economics class taught me how to draw complicated supply and demand curves and calculate gross domestic product, but nothing about how to balance my checkbook or how credit works. Fortunately, some high schoolers now have the chance to learn the ins and outs of credit before entering the real world.

The South Dakota State Treasurer’s Office is offering a free credit card literacy program to South Dakota high school teachers, which they can pass on and teach to their students. The Center for Student Credit Card Education has provided the free materials, which include a PowerPoint presentation and workbook. The program’s goal is to help students learn how to make smart personal finance decisions during the transition to college or work, with an emphasis on credit cards.

In a press release, the Deputy State Treasurer, Michael Mehlhaff, says, “These days, it is not uncommon for young people to get credit card offers before they graduate from high school. Our office has promoted the idea that preventative education which teaches students about credit and how to use it responsibly can help them avoid costly mistakes.”

At this point the program is optional, but the press release from Dec. 28, 2007, says teachers from across the state have already requested the material for more than 2,000 students. Kudos to South Dakota — let’s hope this catches on nationwide. It would be wonderful to see a generation of young people grow up with credit smarts before even graduating from high school.

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