Amid an economic landscape in which college students reportedly double their average credit card debt - and triple the number of credit cards in their wallets - from the time they arrive on campus until graduation, Chief Judge Joan Feeney of the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Massachusetts and M. Ellen Carpenter, president of the Boston Bar Association, have announced a new partnership to develop a financial literacy program for high school seniors throughout Massachusetts.
"Public education is essential to providing young people with the tools they need to use credit responsibly," said Chief Judge Feeney. "Teaching financial literacy to students will be a significant component of this court's public outreach efforts."
The Joint Bankruptcy Court/BBA Task Force on Financial Literacy for Students, co-chaired by Judge Feeney and Janet E. Bostwick, who has played a leading role in designing pro bono initiatives of the BBA Bankruptcy Law Section, will begin by conducting a study to determine the unique financial literacy needs of students in Massachusetts. The study, to be completed in February, will help shape the curriculum used when the financial literacy program launches on a pilot basis in March.
Preliminary plans suggest that the financial literacy program will focus on personal finances, covering budgeting, managing bank accounts, taxes, and responsible use of credit cards. The five bankruptcy judges in Massachusetts have volunteered to teach the course with volunteer lawyers recruited by the Boston Bar Association.
"Chief Judge Feeney has demonstrated great leadership in actively involving members of the bar in the type of public service initiative that can really make a difference in the lives of young people in our community," Ms. Carpenter said.
Among the models the Task Force will be studying are the Credit Abuse Resistance Education (CARE) Program that was founded in 2002 by the U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York and the Bankruptcy Committee of the Monroe County Bar Association.