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Reprinted from November 2003 ABI Journal November 1, 2003

Web posted and Copyright © November 1, 2003, American Bankruptcy Institute.

Financial Literacy Bills Advance in Senate

ith numerous statistical studies indicating that in the field of personal finances, substantial numbers of Americans are financially illiterate, several bills are pending in the Senate to address the issue.

The "Financial Literacy and Education Coordinating Act of 2003" (S. 1470; Sarbanes D-Md.) would establish the Financial Literacy and Education Coordinating Committee within the Department of Treasury to improve the state of financial literacy and education among Americans. The committee, chaired by the Secretary of the Treasury, would develop and coordinate a national strategy, in cooperation with state and local governments, non-profit organizations and private enterprise, to improve financial education and literacy. The committee is required to review financial literacy efforts throughout the government and develop the strategy within one year, with annual reports thereafter.

The "Financial Literacy Community Outreach Act" (S. 1532; Stabenow D-Mich.) would establish a separate 19-member federal commission to achieve many of the same goals. The commission would (a) establish and maintain a financial literacy web site to serve as a clearinghouse for information about federal financial literacy, (b) establish a toll-free hotline to those seeking information about issues pertaining to financial literacy, (c) develop and disseminate materials to the general public, and (d) administer grant programs and issue progress reports.

Both bills are pending in the Senate Banking Committee. Hearings may be held this fall.


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