Abby Stackle ‘20 is one of ten national winners of the Next Gen Personal Finance (NGPF)’s Payback Challenge Essay Contest! NGPF is a non-profit which works to provide students with financial literacy skills needed for an increasingly complex financial world. One of their tools is a game–The Payback Challenge. This interactive, web-based game puts players through a series of decisions designed to mimic the real-life tug of war of competing desires: new or used books, private or public college? Students make virtual choices about what decisions they will make and what the cost will be for their future selves.
Abby completed the Payback Challenge along with her peers in Mrs. Elaine Scholz’s Personal Finance class. Mrs. Scholz chose to use the game in her “Paying for College” unit with the student loan debt crisis in mind: “I wanted my students to personally see how their decisions have a direct impact on their future college debt. Payback was the tool to help deliver the message to my students.”
Based on their feedback, she guessed that students found the experience of playing the game useful. The class followed up their experience with “valuable dialogue regarding their future college decisions and fears,” said Mrs. Scholz. Abby confirmed the insight the game gave her: “Personally, the game highlighted many costs I had not considered when I was planning for college, as well as demonstrated some realistic strategies for reducing the cost, such as having roommates and buying books second hand.”
As a whole, Abby says, the Personal Finance class has made her “more confident about going out on my own next year. Money always seemed fairly complex when I got into the details of it, but this class has broken it down so managing my own finances is entirely possible.” This newfound confidence is exactly what Mrs. Scholz finds so rewarding about teaching the class: ”witnessing the students taking careful thought on planning their financial future by setting financial goals and developing the steps they need to take to meet their goals.”
Abby must be getting the hang of it, because her essay to her future self–a college freshman–on keeping her debt manageable while still pursuing her dreams, came in the top ten out of more than 900 entries nationally, and is the one winner Pennsylvania has had in the contest’s three years of operation. In her essay, Abby reminded herself of strategies she learned while in class at Trinity: get a job to help manage costs, use a reliable banking app to avoid low balance fees, and set a realistic budget. Abby said she was “thrilled” to find out she had won the competition and a $5,000 scholarship along with it. She says, “the timing was perfect! I actually found out right after applying for a few other scholarships.”
Abby plans to use this financial literacy foundation she’s built to attend college and pursue a major in International Business. Congratulations to Abby and to the rest of her class, who will be able to use the skills they have learned to make informed decisions, create financially secure lives, and build the next generation of financially capable leaders.