High school students from across the United States will be in Lincoln May 11 to demonstrate their knowledge of economics and personal finance in the Personal Finance Challenge national competition, Nebraska State Treasurer Stenberg announced today at a news conference at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Business.
Joining Treasurer Stenberg in making the announcement were Dr. Kathy Farrell, Dean of the College of Business, and Jennifer Davidson, president of the Nebraska Council on Economic Education, an independent, non-profit organization housed in the College of Business. Also attending the news conference was Kirk Kellner of Omaha, regional president of Wells Fargo, the signature corporate sponsor of the May 11 event.
This is the first time the annual competition will be in Lincoln. Activities will take place at the UNL College of Business. Previously the national competition, now in its eighth year, was in St. Louis or Kansas City.
“We are excited that this event will be coming to Lincoln this year,” Stenberg said. Davidson said she expects students from as many as 25 states to travel to Lincoln to compete.
“I am thrilled to partner with the Nebraska State Treasurer’s Office and Wells Fargo to make this event a reality. It has been over a year of conversation and is finally coming to fruition. Financial products are complicated, and more than ever before, people are required to be responsible for their own financial futures and retirement planning. An event like this is an exciting way to bring attention to the importance of personal finance education. To compete and win, students must learn and understand important personal finance topics and think about future financial planning,” said Davidson.
“It is a privilege for Wells Fargo to work with likeminded leaders and organizations in Nebraska to support programs such as the National Personal Finance Challenge,” said Kellner. “Wells Fargo prioritizes financial education, as a means to strengthen communities across our state and nation, providing people with information that will support good financial choices throughout life.”
Stenberg also announced that the National Association of State Treasurers (NAST) has issued a resolution endorsing the National Personal Finance Challenge and encouraging students to prepare, study, and enter the competition. “The future of our national economy, our state economies, and the economic well-being of constituents in member states depends on a well-informed citizenry that understands basic financial and economic concepts and can navigate in an increasingly complex and diverse financial environment,” the resolution said.
“We are also happy to announce that this year the Nebraska Educational Savings Trust will award NEST 529 college savings accounts to winners in the national competition as well as our own state competition,” added Stenberg, Trustee of NEST. “First-place winners in the national competition – like in our state competition – will each receive a $2,000 NEST 529 college savings account. Second-place winners will each receive a $1,000 NEST 529 account, and third-place winners will each receive a $500 NEST 529 account.”
A family does not have to live in Nebraska to open a NEST account, Stenberg said. In fact, there are NEST account owners in every state in the United States. NEST accounts can be used at colleges, community colleges, and technical schools throughout the United States and in many countries abroad.
The teacher of each winning team, both at the state and national levels, will receive an iPad tablet, courtesy the Nebraska Educational Savings Trust.
“The State Treasurer’s relationship with the Council on Economic Education goes back five years to 2013 when my office launched a financial education initiative for high school students. One component was focused on offering an online financial education course to Nebraska schools at no charge to the students or the schools or the taxpayers. The second component was focused on helping exemplary students prepare for college by awarding NEST college savings accounts to winners in the Personal Financial Challenge,” Treasurer Stenberg explained.
“In the end, my goal was to help Nebraskans become aware of our excellent NEST 529 college savings program and to help Nebraska young people become financially responsible adults and contributing members of their communities and their state. I couldn’t be happier with the outcome. Assets in our NEST college savings program have grown to $4.8 billion, more than double what assets were when I took office in 2011. The total number of accounts has increased almost 40 percent since 2011. We now have 254,000 accounts nationwide, including 79,000 accounts in Nebraska,” he said
Stenberg said the Treasurer’s online financial education program, developed by EverFi of Washington, D.C., reached almost 10,000 students in 173 schools last school year. The average knowledge gain for high school students – based on pre- and post-testing – was 63 percent. So far this school year, the program has reached more than 7,500 students in 150 schools with more schools committed to using the program before the school year ends.
Spokespeople at the news conference also encouraged Nebraska high school students to get involved in the Personal Finance Challenge. Students must first take individual online tests in their home schools where their scores will be averaged for a team score. Online testing in Nebraska high schools will take place from March 26 to April 9. Teams with the highest combined scores will be invited to the face-to-face competition April 20 at the following locations:
At the face-to-face competition, each team will be given a hypothetical family scenario and asked to come up with a financial plan to be presented to a panel of judges. The first-place team in Nebraska will be chosen based on the face-to-face competition and the online team score. Last year’s winning team in Nebraska was Arthur County High School, which went on to be win third place in the national competition. More information about the Nebraska competition is available at nebraskacouncil.unl.edu.
About NEST 529
NEST 529 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 529 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 266,000 accounts, including over 86,000 in Nebraska. Visit NEST529.com and treasurer.nebraska.gov for more information.
About Nebraska Council on Economic Education
The Nebraska Council on Economic Education and its five centers are focused on directly educating Nebraska’s students and providing professional development for K-12 teachers to advance economic and financial literacy. The Nebraska Council on Economic Education is a 501(c)3 non-profit, housed at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, College of Business Administration. Visit nebraskacouncil.unl.edu for more information.