Eighty-one Nebraska high schools took advantage of Nebraska NEST Financial Scholars, an online financial literacy education program sponsored by the Nebraska Educational Savings Trust (NEST) at no cost to schools, during the 2013-14 school year, State Treasurer Don Stenberg said today at a news conference in his office in the State Capitol.
The total number of Nebraska students reached last year through the Nebraska NEST Financial Scholars program was 2,214, and, of that total, 977 students completed all nine modules of the program to be certified as Nebraska NEST Financial Scholars. The online financial literacy program was developed by EverFi, an educational technology company headquartered in Washington, D.C.
“I am very pleased with the number of Nebraska high schools that used the Nebraska NEST Financial Scholars program last year, our first year of implementation,” Treasurer Stenberg said. “The high rate of school adoption has made this program one of the most successful first-year programs of any of EverFi’s statewide partnerships. We are proud of these statistics and prouder yet of the students’ efforts to learn about personal financial matters like what a credit score means, how to fill out a checkbook, and how to save for college.”
In addition to the 81 schools using the EverFi program through Nebraska NEST Financial Scholars, another 39 high schools in Nebraska are providing the EverFi program through the sponsorship or co-sponsorship of local banks. The EverFi program is made available to students in Lincoln Public Schools through the sponsorship of Union Bank and Trust Co. and Nelnet.
“We had a great first year,” Treasurer Stenberg said. “But we need to do more. Every high school student in Nebraska can benefit from the Nebraska NEST Financial Scholars program. That is the message we will take across the State of Nebraska this year. I am confident that next year we will be able to report that dozens more high schools are participating and that several thousand more Nebraska high school students are being served.”
Stenberg said he called the news conference both to report on the results of the first year of the financial literacy program and to encourage more schools to take advantage of the program that is offered at no cost to the schools, the students, or the taxpayers. While NEST has 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 students across Nebraska continue to have access to financial literacy education through the EverFi program.
“I look forward to adding new schools to our program and new students to our growing ranks of certified Nebraska NEST Financial Scholars during this new school year,” Stenberg said.
“Financial literacy is one of today’s critical life skills. Concepts of savings, credit, investments, interest rates, and mortgages surround us all every day. Students need this essential knowledge to make wise financial decisions in their lifetimes,” Stenberg said.
“By gaining a greater understanding of personal finance through Nebraska NEST Financial Scholars, hundreds of Nebraska high school students have positioned themselves to be smart consumers, wise investors, and financially responsible adults. It is also our intent that, through this program, more young people and their families become aware of the benefits of saving for college through the Nebraska Educational Savings Trust or NEST, as we call our state-sponsored 529 college savings program.”
Treasurer Stenberg offered the following observations about the first year of Nebraska NEST Financial Scholars:
· The 2,214 Nebraska students reached through Nebraska NEST Financial Scholars completed 13,316 individual modules of learning during the 2013-14 school year.
· Among the valuable topics covered were saving, banking, investing, renting versus owning, credit scores, taxes and insurance, and consumer fraud.
· The average overall knowledge gain of Nebraska students, according to pre- and post-assessment surveys, was 21 percentage points.
· Interestingly, the largest knowledge gains were in the modules that addressed taxes and insurance, credit scores, and investing. In those subject areas, students’ knowledge level was up 29 percentage points to 30 percentage points.
· More modest knowledge gains were in the subject areas of renting versus owning, where the average knowledge gain was 9 percentage points, and consumer fraud, where the average gain was just 7 percentage points.
· Schools interested in adding Nebraska NEST Financial Scholars to their curriculum may contact Rachel Biar in the Treasurer’s Office at 402- 471-1088 or Jessica Feimer of EverFi at 402-651-7171.
· Nebraska NEST Financial Scholars can be accessed by Nebraska high school teachers and students through the State Treasurer’s website at www.treasurer.org.