Three out of four Oklahoma high school seniors failed a national test designed to assess knowledge of personal finance. Only 6 percent of the Oklahoma students correctly answered 70 percent of the test questions, the equivalent of a "C” grade. However, that poor showing was better than the scores of all U.S. students, of whom less than 5 percent correctly answered 70 percent of the questions. Lack of knowledge is the chief problem with people who are struggling with debt, said Jennifer Wallis, vice president of Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Central Oklahoma. "Honestly, most people just don't know,” Wallis said. "It's really kind of unfair to expect someone to know how to do something when they've never been taught how to do it.” Educators, economists and financial services experts hope new financial literacy education requirements that take effect this fall can improve those poor scores. All students entering seventh grade this fall must complete 14 financial literacy standards by graduation in 2014. If a school district chooses not to teach the curriculum until high school — as many districts are —implementation of the coursework won't need to begin for a couple of years. Students at 11 Oklahoma schools were among the 6,856 The national score is a decrease from the 2006 mean, which was 52.4 percent. Much of the work of Wallis' organization is teaching basic money-handling skills to clients, and providing education to younger Oklahomans which should help them make better choices with their money, she said. "They're going to have more financial knowledge and better tools to take into their adult life,” Wallis said. "I don't think it's the all-inclusive Holy Grail answer to solving financial problems in Oklahoma, but I do think it's a great step. It can make a big impact.” Sue Lynn Sasser, executive director of the Oklahoma Council on Economic Education, said the students' poor performance disappointed but doesn't surprise her. Sasser, who teaches economics, including introductory courses, at the University of Central Oklahoma, said many of her younger students do not have a grasp of basic financial concepts like compound interest. That lack of knowledge can lead to major problems, Sasser said. "If you put $10,000 on your credit card to pay your wedding and honeymoon and make minimum payments, it's going to take longer to pay off than the average marriage in Oklahoma lasts,” she said. The goal of financial literacy education is to improve the lot of Oklahoma families, Sasser said. If that happens, it should trigger more widespread benefits, she said. "If you improve the financial independence of families, you should improve the overall economy of the state because people are not defaulting on mortgages, they're not filing as many bankruptcies, incomes tend to go up, (and the) savings rate goes up,” Sasser said.