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Bulldogs get financial concepts

The lack of financial literacy among America’s young people is staggering.

Managing money is a fact of life, but most high school students are more well versed in mathematics concepts they’ll never need after graduation than in how to write a check. According to the National Financial Educators Council, 57 percent of college graduates plan to move back in with their parents; 62 percent of college graduates leave school with an average of $27,000 in debt; nearly 40 percent of American adults have no non-retirement savings; and more than half of adults do not have a budget. In a recent online exam on financial literacy, only about a quarter of young people passed.

If the financial crisis of a decade ago taught us anything, it’s that Americans need to be better prepared to weather any kind of financial storm that might come our way.

In recent years, Virginia’s public schools have recognized the need for students to have more financial literacy before they leave high school. Beginning with those who started ninth grade in fall 2011, students graduating from Virginia’s public high schools with a standard or advanced studies diploma are required to complete a course in economics and personal finance.

These students, perhaps more so than their predecessors, are learning the importance of saving money, investing their savings, spending wisely, avoiding debt when possible and paying it off quickly when it can’t be avoided. They learn the simple things, like how to open a bank account or write a check, all the way up to the complex things, like saving money for retirement in an Individual Retirement Account and conducting other forms of investing.

With all this in mind, it is good to see another step toward financial literacy being taken at King’s Fork High School.

With the partnership of BayPort Credit Union, students at King’s Fork are running a BayPort branch. The four tellers are earning hourly wages and completed training and security checks just as all BayPort employees do. All of the students at King’s Fork will receive valuable lessons on personal finance and be able to see the value in building savings at an early age.

BayPort has been doing this initiative since 2014 and has 36 branches inside school buildings in seven localities. Driver Elementary School in Suffolk also has a branch.

We appreciate BayPort’s initiative to support the financial literacy of local students and thank those King’s Fork administrators, teachers and students who stepped up to make the student-run credit union possible. It will pay dividends — literally and figuratively — far into the future.