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High school students quizzed on their financial literacy

Mass. Bankers Association sponsors event to raise awareness

Jeffrey Fuhrer (left), Mike Nikitas, and Ashlee Feldman cohosted the quiz show for high school students Friday at the State House.

David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

Jeffrey Fuhrer (left), Mike Nikitas, and Ashlee Feldman cohosted the quiz show for high school students Friday at the State House.

During the filming of a high school quiz show at the State House on Friday, a student was asked what he liked about finance.

“Money,” he responded.

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Despite the laughs that followed, the quiz show sponsored by the Massachusetts Bankers Association was aimed at a serious issue: expanding financial education in Massachusetts schools. After the last recession, in which poor decisions by home buyers and investors both played a role, many economic policy makers say improving financial literacy has become increasingly important.

“I don’t mean we should blame all the households for what happened. Far from it,” said Jeff Fuhrer, executive vice president at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. “But some of them would have protected themselves from the predatory lending, some of the inappropriate mortgages that they took out that didn’t fit their income and their lifestyle.”

Fuhrer was one of three cohosts for the quiz show, “Common Cents.” Fuhrer, Mike Nikitas from New England Cable News, and Ashlee Feldman from JAM’N 94.5 radio questioned about 50 students on everything from credit reports to compound interest.

Most students fared well. But one question stumped nearly all of them: What is the youngest age at which a college student can obtain a credit card under his or her own signature? Almost every student answered 18. The answer: 21.

About 50 high school students worked in teams Friday at the State House to answer questions on financial matters.

David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

About 50 high school students worked in teams Friday at the State House to answer questions on financial matters.

The state bankers association sponsored the quiz show as a resource for the financial literacy pilot program approved by the Massachusetts Legislature in 2012. The three-year initiative will test financial education in 10 schools to gauge the potential for all Massachusetts high schools.

The quiz show will be available for all Massachusetts schools online and distributed to local cable access channels to be used as a teaching aid.

Former New England Patriots offensive lineman Joe Andruzzi appeared as a special guest on the show, recalling his own struggles with finances after he first signed an NFL contract. He said many young athletes with poor financial knowledge suddenly find themselves with a significant amount of money, which could lead to disaster.

“I have five children of my own, and for kids of this age to come out here and learn about financial education, it’s really going to help them in the future,” he said.

When asked if he knew any of the answers to the quiz show questions, Andruzzi said he got a few right.

Carson Moreira-Rego, a BMC Durfee High School senior who participated in the quiz, said financial education provides practical knowledge that all students should acquire.

“You need to know about this when you go into the real world,” she said. “It’s not like it depends on your major or what you’re going into. This is something that you’re going to need in everyday life.”

Emily Overholt can be reached at emily.overholt@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @emilyoverholt.
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