In his last school visit in office, Nebraska State Treasurer Don Stenberg sat down today with students in Gina Kotas’s Personal Finance classes at Fort Calhoun High School and talked about the students’ financial concerns, challenges, and long-term goals.
He left the students with wise advice including his often-repeated admonition: “The basic rule of financial literacy, financial planning is very simple to say, but very difficult to do, and that is spend less than you earn. Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t do that.”
Stenberg will retire in January after two terms as State Treasurer. He could not run for a third term because of term limits.
“Thank you for being a strong supporter of financial education in our schools,” said Fort Calhoun Principal Jerry Green. “We are so appreciative of the Treasurer’s Office for giving our students the opportunity to grow through financial education. Anytime we have the opportunity to bring someone from state government into our school, it is above and beyond your normal day. Your visit today is a real privilege and honor for us.”
Treasurer Stenberg talked with the Fort Calhoun students about today’s financial challenges, including paying for college, finding a job, and keeping up with peers. The Treasurer and the students also talked about the value of learning about personal finance at a young age, how to save for college, and what to expect in college. He urged students to look for alternatives to borrowing money for college, such as summer jobs, part-time jobs during college, living at home, and taking early courses at a community college. He recommended students consider the lifetime earning potential of a given career field in determining how much money to borrow. He also encouraged students to consider community colleges or technical schools as alternatives to traditional four-year colleges.
Skilled trades like welding, plumbing, construction, and electrical work are in high demand and pay well, he said. He also told students to take advantage of employer-sponsored retirement and savings plans early in their careers and to consider real estate when looking into investments.
“It was wonderful to hear from all of you about your experiences with financial education and managing your money. I encourage you to keep having this conversation with your classmates, teachers, friends, and families,” Stenberg said. “Teaching financial education in schools is critically important to the community, and quality resources are fundamental to the success of teaching these critical skills. We are thrilled to be able to sponsor the financial education program for your school and all of the high schools across the state.”
During his eight years in office, Treasurer Stenberg has visited two dozen schools encouraging students to learn about personal finance and to take part in the Nebraska Financial Scholars program, a free online financial education platform developed by EverFi, Inc., and offered at no charge to schools or students through the Treasure’s website, https://treasurer.nebraska.gov/financial-scholars/
Since the Treasurer’s Nebraska NEST Financial Scholars program began in 2013, a total of more than 42,000 Nebraska students have taken part.
So far in the 2018-19 school year alone, 4,220 students in 83 Nebraska high schools have enrolled in the program sponsored by the Nebraska Educational Savings Trust (NEST 529). And another 758 students in 24 elementary schools in Nebraska have enrolled in EverFi’s Vault program also sponsored by NEST 529.
In addition, Treasurer Stenberg has supported student participation in the State Personal Finance Challenge, sponsored by the Nebraska Council on Economic Education. NEST 529 scholarships have been provided to state winners, and in May 2018 scholarships also were provided to national winners in the competition, which took place at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. A total of $98,000 in NEST scholarships has been awarded to Personal Finance Challenge winners over the last six years.
“My goal has been 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,” he said.
As of the end of September 2018, assets in the NEST 529 college savings program have grown to more than $5 billion, a 100 percent increase from 2011 when Stenberg took office, and the total number of accounts is now 261,000 accounts nationwide – a 43 percent increase from 2011 - including 84,000 accounts in Nebraska.
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 264,000 accounts, including over 85,000 in Nebraska. Visit NEST529.com and treasurer.nebraska.gov for more information.