September 2, 2011

Jefferson City - The student loan default rate in Missouri is less than the national average and has plummeted since the early 1990s. In 1992, almost one-fourth of student loan recipients defaulted, compared to just 5.8 percent for the most recent year statistics were recorded.

To ensure the downward trend continues, the Missouri Department of Higher Education will use a $10,000 grant from the Council for Economic Education to expand materials that teach high school students how to manage money.

MDHE Assistant Commissioner Leanne Cardwell said some college students tend to borrow more money than they need for college expenses. "All of a sudden, a freshman in college may have $20,000 to manage and little or no experience in setting up a budget," Cardwell said. "We're trying to put materials in the hands of high school teachers so students enter college prepared to be wise money managers."

Since 2001, MDHE has been providing default prevention grants to colleges and universities to help them develop programs that guide students to lower debt loads and better money management.

Legislation passed in 2006 required high school students to take a personal finance course, beginning with the graduating class of 2010. MDHE developed student materials called "Smart About Spending" for use in the personal finance classes. The materials focus on income, money management, spending and credit, and saving and investing.

The new "Smart About Spending" teachers' guide is expected to be used by 518 personal finance teachers in Missouri.                       ###