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HSFPP Stories of Impact

Planning for a Financial Life after College

HSFPP Stories of Impact

real teachers real stories

By Hilary Wimmer, Business Teacher, Westminister, Colo.

This past February, I was teaching the Not So Fleeting Interest lesson under the borrowing unit. I was lucky enough to stumble upon the HSFPP materials through DECA, a club for business and marketing students.

After we looked at interest on the smaller payment amounts, I had mentioned to the class how interest could really amplify when the principle is larger. I pulled up student loan repayment calculator and showed the class. The students were horrified when they saw how much interest the average American repays on the average student loan balance.

Later that day, when I was eating lunch in my classroom, one of the students from class approached me. She said that our class discussion about interest had her concerned about college because she knew she would have to take out student loans.

I sat down with her and had her pull up her University of Wyoming financial aid package. She and I went step by step through the financial aid package so I could review her calculations. Her calculations were correct, unfortunately! After she graduated from the University of Wyoming, she would be repaying over $20,000 in interest if she took out the loans she was planning on taking out. She was very disappointed that her high school counselor didn't warn her about this, and had actually encouraged her to go to her "dream college."

I spent the next few weeks meeting with this student regarding college planning. She finally decided that she didn't want to start life burdened by student loans. She has spent her life watching her parents make poor financial decisions and she is determined to not repeat the pattern. After our weeks of working together, she decided to go to Front Range Community College for the first two years and to save up her money for her last two years at the University of Wyoming.

Two days after she let me know about her decision, she brought me one of her friends during lunch. Her friend was not in my personal finance course but was also concerned about what it would cost her to go to college. When we pulled up her financial aid package, she was shocked to learn that the money in her account was being offered in the form of loans. She assumed that the financial aid package was free money.

Seeing this student change a financial decision after our lesson, truly demonstrates how important the HSFPP curriculum is for any teacher who is teaching personal finance concept. Our students want to make good financial decisions and this curriculum helps teach them step-by-step how they can do this.

My goal this year is to use your resources to begin educating our teachers and staff on personal finances. The reason that I want to do this is so that I can help all of our students. When I found out that a counselor has encouraged my student to pursue her "dream" college and not to worry about the cost, it made me realize that our students are receiving advice that will lead them to financial problems in the future. When I reflected on why they were giving this advice, I realized that most teachers attended teaching school and did not learn how to manage their own finances.

I have now signed up to teach the teachers in my high school personal finance on our teacher-directed in-service days. I am really excited about the opportunity to work with the teachers and expand the knowledge of financial literacy in my building. I believe I have to work on strengthening the knowledge of teachers, in my building, so they can start better helping students. Honestly, I believe that the HSFPP lessons are the way to do this. They are user-friendly, understandable and very accessible. My hope is also that our economics teachers will see the value of these lessons and begin to use them in their classrooms.