Nebraska high school students will be taught basic financial literacy using high-tech methods under an initiative launched by State Treasurer Don Stenberg.
Treasurer Stenberg held a news conference in his office to discuss Nebraska NEST Financial Scholars, a program that will be offered at no charge to high schools throughout the state. The program will use the services of EverFi, an educational technology company based in Washington, D.C.
EverFi uses a number of high-tech methods to engage high school students in basic money management, including video, animation, 3-D games and social networking. Students participating in the program could become certified in more than 600 topics.
High-tech might be used in the program, but the basic message is an old-fashioned one, according to Stenberg: don’t spend more than you earn.
“Sounds awful simple, but if you look what happened during the early 2000’s, people got mortgages far beyond their ability to pay for them. They lost their homes. It was so severe it severely impacted the national financial system,” Stenberg stated.
Nebraska Bankers Association President George Beattie, appearing with Stenberg at the news conference, said the lack of financial literacy hit home to him when he saw a television report about a young, single mother making $40,000 a year struggling to pay the mortgage on her $400,000 home.
“Somewhere there was a big disconnect as to how far that $40,000 would go,” Beattie stated. “And that’s when I talk about the value of money and what you can do with it. You have to have some understanding that there are limitations on what you as an individual have as resources to expend, whether it’s on a mortgage, on a car, college education or whatever the case may be.”
Bonnie Sibert with the Nebraska Department of Education, also at the news conference, continued the discussion on why so many students are financially illiterate today.
Sibert joked with Beattie, asking if he had a credit card when he was young. When he responded that he didn’t, she pointed out that many high school students have access to credit cards, changing the dynamics of money management for the coming generation.
“Our society has easy, easy credit and that’s why that $40,000 wage earner thought she could buy a $400,000 house,” Sibert added.
Beattie said he hopes the Nebraska NEST Financial Scholars will succeed in raising the financial literacy of youth.
“I just don’t think we have emphasized financial literacy,” Beattie said. “We’ve talked about doing this for 30 years, but we haven’t made a big ripple in the pond.”
AUDIO: State Treasurer Don Stenberg news conference on financial literacy program for high school students. [15 min.]