America is churning out financially illiterate students. Believe it or not – – the problem is getting worse. The Washington, DC-based Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy released a study last week which measured 12th graders’ level of knowledge of personal finance basics and compared the results with those from a similar survey conducted in 1997 by the coalition. On average, participants in the 2000 survey answered 51.9% of the questions correctly compared to an average score in 1997 of 57.3%. The coalition blames the intense pressure placed on schools to perform well on standards examinations, which leaves little time to include personal finance requirements in most states’ curriculum standards. The Jump$tart survey found the percentage of students who do not use a credit card declined slightly (69.1% in 2000 versus 70.8% in 1997). Out of students who do use a credit card, 9.2% had their own (compared with 7.7% in 1997), 18.3% use their parents’ (compared with 17.2% in 1997) and 2.8% use both their own and their parents, compared with 4% three years ago. In a related development, Chase Manhattan announced at the Jump$tart annual meeting last week that it will begin funding the Jump$tart coalition to the tune of $1 million per year in return for assistance in identifying potential projects, managing the collaboration process, and developing a channel for the electronic delivery of curriculum and educational material on financial literacy. For more information on Jump$tart visit www.jumpstart.org.