State Treasurer Don Stenberg awarded certificates today to 13 Norfolk High School students 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 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 Norfolk students in an event in the school’s library-media center.
Last week as part of his financial literacy initiative, Stenberg presented NEST Scholar certificates to students at Kearney High School and North Platte High School. 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, almost doubling the number of students reached all of last year. Students in Nebraska have completed more than 17,000 modules of the course, also significantly more than 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 have said the course has prepared them to make good financial decisions. In particular, they said, they appreciate learning about loans, credit scores, saving, renting vs. owning, and the difference between credit and debit cards.
While final statistics for the 2014-15 school year are not yet available, Stenberg shared the following statistics about the 2013-14 school year, the first year of the NEST Financial Scholars program.
In addition, Stenberg said a recently released study by researchers at Montana State University concluded that a carefully implemented, rigorous financial education program in high school can improve credit scores and lower the probability of credit delinquency for young adults.
Stenberg said he has been pleased with the response of students, teachers, and administrators to the Nebraska NEST Scholars program during these first two years. “Two objectives guided my decision to develop the NEST Scholars program: 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 are providing the EverFi course solely through sponsorship of local banks.
EverFi’s web-based teaching platform uses new media technologies—video, animation, 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.
NEST Financial Scholars can be accessed by Nebraska high school teachers and students through the State Treasurer’s website at treasurer.nebraska.gov/financial-literacy/. NEST, Nebraska’s state-sponsored 529 college savings program, is a division of the Nebraska State Treasurer’s Office. Treasurer Stenberg, is Trustee of NEST.
How has the EverFi course benefited you now and how will it benefit you in the future?
"It has taught me how to plan for the future (and) how to save money and put it to good use."
“EverFi has benefited me by helping me make better financial decisions.”
“EverFi has made me more aware of the importance of using my money wisely and how my financial decisions now will affect my future. I am less scared of living on my own someday because I learned how to safely invest, file taxes, protect my ID, and make large purchases.”
“I’m more confident in making financial decisions.”
“It showed me how to save and be smart with the money that I earn.”
“EverFi has helped me more than I even realize yet. No here else in high school have they taught me to do basic things like pay taxes, finance cards, buy a house, save money.”
Tell us about one concept you will take away and put into practice. Explain why.
“I will use the overall concept of making money work the best for you.”
“I plan to put the investment concept into practice. I think it is important to invest.”
“One concept I will take away and put into practice is to save my money. This is important because saving money will take you very far in life.”
“One section that really stood out to me was the one about consumer protection today; lots of purchases and confidential information are done online, so it is imperative that I make wise choices and choose a secure password while dealing with the Internet.”
“Renting vs. owning. As I prepare to move away for college, this knowledge will be extremely helpful in making choices for housing.”
“Probably the biggest thing I took out of EverFi was the concept of financial literacy. I can talk to people about my financial future without sounding like someone who is trying too hard to sound like I know what I’m talking about or acting too important.”
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/.