Financial Literacy 'Personal Finance Challenge' 2013
Treasurer Stenberg to Help Judge Competition and Award $14,000 in College Savings Plan Scholarships

Thirteen teams of high school students from across Nebraska will compete Saturday, April 20, in the regional competitions of the Personal Finance Challenge sponsored by the Nebraska Council of Economic Education.

First-, second-, and third-place teams will be selected at each of the three regional competition sites. Based on online tests, the first-place teams from the three regions will then be ranked first, second, and third statewide. The top ranking team in the state will go on to the National Personal Finance Challenge May 2 in St. Louis, Mo.

Each of the four members of the team placing first in the state will receive a $2,000 scholarship for a Nebraska Educational Savings Trust (NEST) college savings plan. The four members of the second-place team will each receive a $1,000 scholarship for a NEST savings account, and the four members of the third-place team will each receive $500 toward a NEST savings account.

Teams will be given two hours to prepare plans in response to a hypothetical scenario about family finances. Each team will present its plan to a team of judges. The regional competitions will take place simultaneously from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. April 20 at the following regional locations:

  • Omaha - University of Nebraska at Omaha, Mammel Hall
  • Lincoln – University of Nebraska-Lincoln, College of Business Administration
  • North Platte – North Platte Community College, Center for Enterprise

State Treasurer Don Stenberg, Trustee of the Nebraska Educational Savings Trust and one of the judges at the Omaha competition, said he looks forward to listening to the students’ solutions and to gaining a greater understanding of the students’ grasp of complicated financial matters facing families today.

“As the chief financial officer of the state and as a parent and grandparent, I firmly believe that we must emphasize and promote financial literacy for young Nebraskans. That education will help them reach their goals and achieve their dreams,” Stenberg said.

“My parents lived through the Great Depression. So when I was growing up in Tekamah, Nebraska, they emphasized the need to be careful handling money. Later, my education at the Harvard Business School gave me a solid understanding of budgeting and finance. As Nebraska State Treasurer, I use that knowledge every day in addressing the important financial matters that come before me. Given that perspective, it is clear to me that we need to do all we can to promote financial literacy among our young Nebraskans,” Stenberg said.

Treasurer Stenberg announced earlier this year that NEST would award $14,000 in college savings scholarships to Personal Finance Challenge winners as one way to emphasize the importance of financial literacy. The scholarships are part of a larger initiative being undertaken by the Treasurer’s Office to emphasize and promote financial literacy education for young Nebraskans.

“It is also my hope that these NEST scholarships will result in greater awareness of Nebraska’s college savings program and of how Nebraska’s state-sponsored 529 college savings plans can help parents and grandparents prepare for the cost of higher education for their children and grandchildren. At NEST we encourage children to dream for their future and parents to save for those dreams,” Stenberg said.

Student and teacher participation in the Personal Finance Challenge nearly doubled in spring 2013 after Treasurer Stenberg announced significant prizes, said Jennifer Davidson, director of programs and community development for the Nebraska Council on Economic Education The council is a non-profit organization that sponsors education programs, courses and teacher workshops to improve students’ economic and financial literacy. It is housed at UNL and has centers at UNO, UNK, Wayne State College, and Chadron State College.

A total of 1,090 students from across the state took part in the preliminary online competition testing students’ knowledge of money management, spending, credit, savings, and investing. That was up from 551 students who took part in online testing last spring, Davidson said. The top-scoring teams in the online testing advanced to the face-to-face competitions in Omaha, Lincoln, and North Platte.

Sixty teachers participated this spring, and 30 of them were new to the competition, Davidson added.

“I am so excited at the turnout for the 2013 competition,” Davidson said. “The increased prize levels with the 529 College Savings Plans are major incentives for teachers to get their students involved and for students to study hard and learn about finance. The new regional model gives many more students the opportunity to win.” Previously the state competition was held only in Omaha.

“Congratulations to the outstanding students who are going on to represent their schools at the regional level,” said Roger Butters, council president. “It is always exciting see the best and brightest that Nebraska has to offer and that demonstrate the wonderful results of their teachers’ and schools’ efforts.”

Following are the competing teams and their teachers. Some schools are represented by more than one team.

  • Omaha –West Point Beemer (two teams), Steve Swett; Bellevue East, Andrew Werner; and Elkhorn, Nick Jarzynka.
  • Lincoln – Johnson-Brock High School, Sylvia Smith; Columbus High School (two teams), Kari Tunink; and Norris High School, Sid Conrad.
  • North Platte – Sutherland Public School (two teams), Shannon Staggs; Burwell Junior- Senior High School, Jennifer Critel; Gibbon High School, Deb Stroh; and Mitchell Junior- Senior High School, Natalie Hadden.

Judges at each location are as follows:

  • Omaha – Treasurer Stenberg; Erin Redemske, Federal Reserve; and Amy Shaw, Nebraska Credit Union League.
  • Lincoln – Rachel Biar, director of College Savings Plans for the State Treasurer’s Office; John Munn, director of Nebraska Department of Banking and Finance; Marcie Young, Primerica; and Jill Schmeiding, Wells Fargo Advisors.
  • North Platte – Bonnie Druse, North Platte Chamber of Commerce; Crystal Welch, Center for Enterprise; Scott Olesky, Eagle Communications; Jacquee Harms, KNOP-TV; and Braxton Fecht, First National Bank.

About NEST

NEST is a tax-advantaged 529 college savings plan and provides four plans to help make saving for college simple and affordable: NEST Direct College Savings Plan, the NEST Advisor College Savings Plan, the TD Ameritrade 529 College Savings Plan, and the State Farm College Savings Plan. The Nebraska State Treasurer serves as Program Trustee. First National Bank of Omaha serves as Program Manager, and all investments are approved by the Nebraska Investment Council. Families nationwide are saving for college using Nebraska’s 529 College Savings Plans, which have more than 261,000 accounts, including 84,000 in Nebraska. Visit NEST529.com and treasurer.nebraska.gov for more information.

Investments Are Not FDIC Insured* · No Bank, State or Federal Guarantee · May Lose Value
*Except the Bank Savings Individual Investment Option
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