High school students on winning teams in the Personal Financial Challenge competition will be awarded scholarship money through the State Treasurer’s office.
Treasurer Don Stenberg has announced the Nebraska Educational Savings Trust fund will award $14,000 in college savings plan scholarships to students who win and place in the 2013 Personal Finance Challenge.
Stenberg stated during a news conference in his Capitol office that he speaks often at high schools, emphasizing the need for financial literacy by illustrating the consequences of financial illiteracy.
“In the early 2000s, many people borrowed money to buy homes, but they didn’t do their homework and in the end, they didn’t have the money to make their monthly payments,” Stenberg stated. “As a result, many lost their homes and the resulting national housing market collapse nearly ruined the financial system of the United States.”
The Nebraska Council on Economic Education sponsors the Personal Financial Challenge each year. In it, four-member teams of high school students from across Nebraska enter an online competition on the essential concepts of personal finance. The top teams move on to the national competition in St. Louis.
Nebraska Council on Economic Education President Roger Butters said the contest helps increase financial literacy among high school students.
“You know I think the single most important thing for students to grasp is the single simplest and the hardest: don’t buy things you can’t afford,” according to Butters. “That’s as much a classroom thing as a cultural thing. Teachers in the classroom can talk about budgeting, credit scores, appropriate purchases, wants versus needs, but this is also a conversation that should occur around dinner tables.”
More than 3,000 high school students guided by 200 teachers take the Financial Challenge each year. The Treasurer’s office will deposit $2,000 into a college savings plan for the members of the winning team. Members of the second-place team will receive $1,000 scholarships, with the third-place team members receiving $500 each.
“These are pretty big prizes. This is a nice incentive for students to study a little bit harder to earn one of those top spots. So, we definitely are hopeful that the numbers will increase,” said Jennifer Davidson, Community Development Program Director for the Council on Economic Education.
Stenberg said providing prizes for the Personal Finance Challenge is one of a series of initiatives to promote financial literacy that the Treasurer’s Office will be undertaking in 2013. Other measures will be announced later.
AUDIO: Treasurer Don Stenberg news conference on scholarship awards to Personal Finance Challenge winners. [9 min.]