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Empowering Students Through Enhanced Financial Counseling Act

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. KILMER. Madam Chair, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

I rise today as someone who went to college with the help of grants and loans and the support of a family and a community that had my back. It is in that spirit that I rise today to offer an amendment designed to help students and borrowers get access to more information about sound financial practices.

We know that financial literacy is important. It helps provide people with a roadmap for making sound financial decisions, to avoid or get out of debt, to prepare for emergencies, and to save for a brighter future.

Studies have found that 20-somethings have an average debt of $45,000, primarily from student loans, but also from car loans, mortgages, and credit card debt. When the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development provided an international financial literacy test, American students ranked below average.

We need to do more to promote financial literacy, and it is particularly important that students who are getting federally-supported loans are getting the tools that they need to keep their finances on track.

We need to support resources that teach students financial literacy and provide them with the tools that they need to improve decisionmaking and strengthen their household budgets. Helping more students shore up their financial management skills also has a direct impact on the economic and financial stability of our country.

Congress took a critical step forward in providing these resources by creating the Financial Literacy and Education Commission as part of the Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act of 2003, legislation that passed the House with overwhelmingly bipartisan support and was signed into law by President George W. Bush.

The Financial Literacy and Education Commission developed resources that help consumers better understand financial products. It offers guidance on how to financially prepare for and respond to major life events, and it gives tips on savings and borrowing and deterring fraud.

The amendment that I offer today would direct universities and the Department of Education to provide students with information about the financial management resources provided by the Financial Literacy and Education Commission.

For many students, a student loan is the first loan of their lives. As students consider the financial assistance that they need to get a decent education, it is critically important that they have the information they need to responsibly manage their finances.

I particularly want to applaud the ongoing work and leadership in promoting financial literacy by the cochairs of the House Financial and Economic Literacy Caucus, including Representative Hinojosa, who has been a strong advocate of financial literacy initiatives and played a critical role in creating this commission.

I am also pleased to be joined by my colleague from Alabama (Mr. Bachus), who sponsored this legislation that helped create this commission.

I reserve the balance of my time.

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Mr. KILMER. Madam Chair, I just want to close by thanking Mr. Bachus not just for his support of this amendment, but for his career of work on behalf of financial literacy, and not just working on behalf of our students, but all of our families.

I also want to thank the rest of my fellow cosponsors of the underlying bill, as well as the chairman and the ranking member and their staffs for working with me on this amendment.

As someone who couldn't have gone to college without the assistance of financial aid, I am hopeful that this will take a meaningful step toward providing young people with tools that they need to live financially responsible lives.

With that, I yield back the balance of my time.

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