Decatur Students Complete Financial Literacy Program

Decatur Students Complete Financial Literacy Program
The most recent Stephen Decatur High School financial literacy program graduates are pictured with Bank of Ocean City representatives and school officials. Photo by Shawn Soper

BERLIN — A bumper crop of fiscally responsible students emerged from Stephen Decatur last week armed with certifications after completing a rigorous financial literacy course at the Berlin high school.

Forty-one Stephen Decatur High School students last week received their official certifications after completing the financial literacy program provided by EverFi Inc. and sponsored by the Bank of Ocean City. The newly-certified students completed the EverFi web-based program as part of a statewide initiative to teach financial responsibility to the soon-to-be adults.

The EverFi program uses the latest in new media technologies including adaptive pathing, 3D gaming, social networking, online animations, video and messaging tools to bring complex financial concepts to life. Decatur Principal Tom Sites praised the students from each grade level for completing the rigorous program and told them its important lessons will help prepare them for a better future as they move on in life.

“Financial literacy is so important,” he said. “You need to learn to have a budget and when you do that, you can go far. This program gives you a leg up with that because even a lot of adults struggle with this.”

Through the EverFi program, the students became certified in over 600 topics in financial education and became better financially informed citizens. The Bank of Ocean City contracted with EverFi to bring the interactive financial management program to the Decatur students at no cost to the school.

Bank of Ocean City Vice President Earl Conley said the program teaches high school students every aspect of financial literacy using, in some cases, virtual reality applications.

“This program includes some of the most important things you’ll learn here in high school,” he said. “When you have this much money, you can only spend that much money, but you also have to save for the future. You have to live within your means.”

Conley said one of the first encounters with adulthood and the need for financial savviness will greet the high school students when they reach the next level of their education.

“You’re going to learn all about credit card solicitations when you get to college,” he said. “Predatory lending is back. You get that card, you’re at college and you’re thinking this is way too easy. I was guilty of it and a lot of adults are guilty of it.”

To paint a clearer picture, Conley put real numbers to the college credit card dilemma.

“With a bank loan, interest is compounded every month,” he said. “Credit card companies compound interest every single day. If you get a card with a $1,000 balance and pay that $25 a month, it will take you 15 years to pay it off. In the end, you’ll probably pay $15,000 for that $1,000.”

The 10-unit course offers six hours of programming aimed at teaching, assessing and certifying students in a variety of financial topics including credit scores, insurance, credit cards, student loans, mortgages, taxes, stocks, savings, 401ks and other critical concepts. The system uniquely tracks the progress and score of every student and provides those who successfully complete the course with a Certification in Financial Literacy, a powerful tool on college resumes, applications and more.

Conley said the Bank of Ocean City is happy to sponsor the program at Decatur because many of the students will be the bank’s clients later in life.

“You need to live within your means and start planning for your retirement already,” he said. “This financial literacy program is one of the most important things we can offer you. We wouldn’t do it if it wasn’t extremely important.”

About The Author: Shawn Soper

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Shawn Soper has been with The Dispatch since 2000. He began as a staff writer covering various local government beats and general stories. His current positions include managing editor and sports editor. Growing up in Baltimore before moving to Ocean City full time three decades ago, Soper graduated from Loch Raven High School in 1981 and from Towson University in 1985 with degrees in mass communications with a journalism concentration and history.