It seems we cannot turn on our computers or look at the headlines without learning more about the dangers of student loan debt. Beginning in 2010, as the American economy came to a crash in a symphony of consumer loan defaults, bankruptcies and corporate mismanagement. President Obama’s Department of Education first took on the issue of student loan defaults in the private sector of higher education. This was again the focus of the DOE in 2014.

The student loan default rates have catastrophic consequences, not only for the individual in default but also our society. Student loan defaults are not just a product of the individual but a product of a collective failure as a society to properly educate our citizens.

The National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys’ report. Published on Feb. 4. found that 81 percent of bankruptcy attorneys Polled believed that the number of potential client>with student loan debt has “significantly” increased in the last three years. And. 95 percent of the bankruptcy attorney. Polled saw no chance of obtaining a discharge as a result of the hardship.

More than ever. Americans are pursuing education as a means to achieve employment and increase earning potential. As a result, more of our citizens are loaded with debt. We have all heard from our parents. government and media that the means to upward mobility is education. However. this is impossible without basic financial literacy. Thirty years ago, Americans started working earlier, worked longer, lived shorter, saved more and were more likely to be covered by a defined benefit pension plan. Conversely today. Americans enter the workforce later, retire earlier, live longer, save less and are unlikely to be covered by a defined benefit pension plan.

It is more important than ever to understand finance because the impact is so critical. The financial instruments are more complicated. and smart financial decisions are necessary in order to successfully navigate personal monetary pitfalls.

In 2009. the state of New Jersey passed S-2211. requiring the Commissioner of Education to establish a 3-year program 10 provide high school seniors with financial literacy courses in selected school districts. This was a bold step to educate students before they reach college and teach them how to properly manage expenses and debt. We expect students to balance a course load. workload, family responsibilities and sometimes shot glasses without the ability to balance a checkbook.

Traditional coursework includes as many general education courses that the public deems necessary to a “modern education.” However. the vast majority of these courses have their role, in the classical education movement that began in the Middle Ages. A lot has changed in the last 600 years; however. the foundations of educational establishments have remained relatively Magnate. ls astronomy or geology more important than financial literacy? Maybe in the Middle Ages. but surely not now. Why do we expect students to know sedimentary rock but not what a variable rate loan means? We expect students to balance a course load, workload, family responsibilities and sometimes shot glasses without the ability to balance a checkbook.

Financial literacy courses should be a requirement of all high school graduates. It imperative that we as a society own this issue. We should not scapegoat educational leaders in the private sector but rather take responsibility as a society to empower financial literacy for all high school students.