State Treasurer Don Stenberg awarded certificates today to high school students in North Platte and Kearney who completed Nebraska NEST Financial Scholars, an online financial literacy course provided to schools free of charge by the Nebraska Educational Savings Trust (NEST).
“Congratulations and best wishes to all of you, our newest Nebraska NEST Scholars. By gaining a greater understanding of personal finance, you have positioned yourselves to be smart consumers, wise investors, and financially responsible adults,” Treasurer Stenberg told the students in recognition ceremonies at North Platte High School and Kearney High School.
Stenberg also will present financial literacy certificates April 28 at Norfolk High School.
“Financial literacy is a critical life skill. The concepts you have learned about savings, credit, investments, interest rates, mortgages, and more will help you make wise financial decisions, not just today, but throughout your lifetime,” Stenberg told the North Platte and Kearney students.
The online educational program offered through NEST was developed by EverFi, Inc., of Washington, D.C.
Stenberg said more than 4,000 Nebraska high school students have been reached this year by EverFi’s financial literacy course, already almost doubling the number of students reached last year. Students in Nebraska have completed more than 17,000 modules of the EverFi course, also well ahead of the 13,000 modules completed last year.
Eighty-seven Nebraska high schools are using the EverFi course sponsored by NEST, and another 10 are expected to offer the course yet this school year. Eight of those 87 are co-sponsored by local banks. Last year, a total of 81 schools took part in the NEST Financial Scholars program.
Students at North Platte High School said the course has prepared them to make good financial decisions in the future. In particular, they said, they appreciate learning about loans, credit scores, saving, renting vs. owning, and the difference between credit and debit cards. “EverFi taught me that saving is crucial because if it is not taken seriously, not only could you be in debt from the start, but for the rest of your life,” one student wrote.
Treasurer Stenberg offered the following observations about the 2013-14 school year, the first year of the Nebraska NEST Financial Scholars program. Final statistics for the 2014-15 school year are not yet available.
Stenberg also noted that in a recently released study, researchers at Montana State University concluded that a carefully implemented, rigorous financial education program in high school can improve the credit scores and lower the probability of credit delinquency for young adults.
NEST Financial Scholars can be accessed by Nebraska high school teachers and students through the State Treasurer’s website at treasurer.nebraska.gov. NEST, Nebraska’s state-sponsored 529 college savings program, is a division of the Nebraska State Treasurer’s Office. Treasurer Stenberg, who is Trustee of NEST, announced in May 2013 that NEST would sponsor the EverFi program for schools across the state.
“Two objectives guided that decision: I wanted to encourage financial literacy education statewide, and I wanted to increase awareness of the benefits of savings for college through NEST,” Stenberg said.
While NEST has provided initial seed funding for the statewide sponsorship, EverFi continues to work with banks, foundations, and corporations to seek additional funding to make sure that high school students across Nebraska have access to financial literacy education through the EverFi program. In addition to the schools offering the course through NEST, another 25 Nebraska schools have been providing the EverFi course solely through sponsorship of local banks.
EverFi’s web-based teaching platform uses new media technologies—video, animations, 3-D gaming, avatars, and social networking. Topics include credit cards, credit scores, insurance, mortgages, savings, stocks, student loans, taxes, 401 (k) plans, and other personal finance concepts that meet national financial literacy standards. The course is presented in nine modules and takes about eight hours to complete.
Each student who completes the course earns a Certification in Financial Literacy, which can be used on social media platforms and on college admission applications and employment resumes.
About EverFi, Inc.
EverFi, Inc., is the leading education technology company to teach, assess, and certify students in financial literacy. The company uses the latest technology, including rich media, high-definition video, simulation, diagrams, and avatars. EverFi teams with major corporations, foundations, and governmental entities to provide programs at no cost to schools. More information is available at everfi.com.
NEST is a tax-advantaged 529 college savings program that 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 Trustee. First National Bank of Omaha serves as Program Manager. Investments are approved by the Nebraska Investment Council. More than 229,000 families nationwide, including 67,000 families in Nebraska, are saving for their children’s higher education through NEST. For more information, visit treasurer.nebraska.gov/csp/.