State Treasurer Don Stenberg made the first of two school visits today at Nebraska City High School, urging students to compete in the 2015 Personal Finance Challenge and encouraging schools to offer an online financial literacy course through the Nebraska Educational Savings Trust (NEST).
The online course, called Nebraska NEST Financial Scholars, is available to Nebraska high schools at no charge to schools, students, or taxpayers.
“Do you like to compete?” Stenberg asked the Nebraska City students. “You may already compete on the basketball court, at the volleyball net, on the football field, on the outdoor track, or on the wrestling mat. Others of you, no doubt, compete in the classroom or for a seat in the band or a place in a vocal ensemble. I am here today to offer you another opportunity to compete, this time for a college scholarship.”
In addition to his Nebraska City stop, Stenberg is scheduled to speak Wednesday to students from ninth through 12th grade at Wood River Rural High School in Wood River. He spoke Jan. 30 to 230 students at Wayne High School about the Personal Finance Challenge and the NEST Financial Scholars online program.
The Nebraska Educational Savings Trust (NEST), a division of the State Treasurer’s Office, will award a total of $14,000 to winners in the Personal Finance Challenge, which is sponsored by the Nebraska Council on Economic Education. Students usually compete in the event in teams of four.
Members of the first-place team will each receive a $2,000 contribution to a NEST college savings account. Members of the second-place team will each receive a $1,000 NEST college savings account. And members of the third-place team will each receive a $500 college savings account.
Stenberg said this is the third year the Nebraska Educational Savings Trust has provided college savings accounts for the Finance Challenge winners. Winners will be selected April 18 at face-to-face competitions in Omaha, Lincoln, and Kearney. Stenberg will help judge the Lincoln competition.
“As State Treasurer and Trustee of NEST, I want to help prepare young people across Nebraska to be tomorrow’s smart, well informed consumers, investors, and community leaders. That preparation will help them make good decisions about their personal finances in the future and even now,” Stenberg said.
To prepare for the statewide competition, Stenberg encouraged Nebraska high schools to take advantage of Nebraska NEST Financial Scholars for Families, an online financial education program developed by EverFi, Inc., in Washington, D.C., and offered free of charge to Nebraska schools through NEST. In some communities, local banks are sponsoring or co-sponsoring the program.
While NEST provided initial seed funding for the statewide sponsorship, EverFi is continuing to work with banks, foundations, and corporations to seek additional funding to make sure that high school students across Nebraska have access to the EverFi program.
“I am here today for three reasons: One, to encourage Nebraska high school students to take part in the 2015 Personal Finance Challenge. Two, to encourage Nebraska students and their teachers to take full advantage of our online Nebraska NEST Financial Scholars program. And three, to encourage young people to talk to their parents and grandparents about saving for college—whether a four-year college, community college, or trade school—with our excellent NEST college savings plans,” Stenberg said in remarks prepared for delivery.
“The Finance Challenge statewide competition is an excellent way to promote learning about economics and personal finance in high schools throughout our state,” Stenberg said. More than 2,200 Nebraska high school students took part in the Finance Challenge last year.
“Ultimately we believe our Nebraska NEST Financial Scholars program, along with the Personal Finance Challenge competition, will benefit the State of Nebraska as we provide our young people with the incentive and the knowledge they need to live out their dreams as financially responsible adults and as we provide families the information and tools they need to build the financial foundation where these dreams can take hold,” Stenberg said.
Before the face-to-face Finance Challenge team competitions in April, students will take an online test in their home schools and their scores will be averaged for a team score. First-place winners will be chosen at each competition site, and then each team’s average online test score will be used to determine first-, second-, and third-place winners in the state.
The winning team will advance to the national competition May 22 in St. Louis, Mo. The top team in Nebraska last year was from Norris High School; the second-place team was from Alliance High School.
To find out more about the competition and how to enter, teachers and students will find details at financechallenge.unl.edu. Click on Nebraska in the U.S. map or select Nebraska from the dropdown menu.
The EverFi web-based curriculum available through Nebraska NEST Financial Scholars helps students learn critical life skills regarding personal finance and money management, focusing on college savings, credit cards, credit scores, insurance, interest rates, mortgages, and stocks. The course is offered in nine modules and can be completed in about eight hours. Students who finish the program receive certificates and badges they can post to their favorite social media platforms and refer to on applications for college, for scholarships, and for employment. For more details and contact information, visit treasurer.nebraska.gov/financial-literacy.
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.