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Bellarmine University Partners with Junior Achievement on College Budgeting Curriculum

Aug 17, 2011

More than 400 new Bellarmine freshmen took part today in a hands-on Junior Achievement program designed to help them make smart financial decisions. The program, Finance Park2, offers lessons on budgeting, identity theft, credit cards and payday lending.

During the program, freshmen were asked to set personal financial goals.
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Finance Park2 is a JA program designed to help adults and college students make financially sound decisions. It has been adapted for Bellarmine students to complement their school curriculum. The simulation involves creating and maintaining a budget as a college student with a part-time income, to show the incoming freshmen students the process of budgeting as well as changing their attitudes about it. The goal is for the students to understand the importance of budgeting as a lifelong commitment.

"Coming to a university is, for many young people, their first opportunity to make adult financial decisions without familial supervision," said Dr. Kathleen Cooter, a professor of education at Bellarmine. "Sadly, too often students make avoidable and costly financial errors which have long lasting detrimental effects on both their education here at Bellarmine and long after graduation as they attempt to rebuild their credit. Junior Achievement is partnering with us to help these young adults understand their new set of adult financial responsibilities in an active and engaging manner so as to learn about common young adult financial decisions and pitfalls."

Cooter visited payday lenders and pawn shops to gather information about those forms of lending, and shared that information with students during the program.

"It was fun," said Kyle Marshall, a freshman from Ft. Branch, Ind. "I enjoyed coming here and seeing this place and getting to learn about my finances, because that's going to be a big deal for me in these next four years. I found out that I might need to learn a little more about credit cards."

Knowing this was a first-time program, Marshall suggested to organizers that next year's session allow participants to spend less time doing math related to their budget, and more time reviewing the impact of their budgeting choices during the exercise.

This day differed from a typical day at JA Finance Park, where middle school students are asked to maintain a monthly budget given different lifestyle circumstances. Seventh and eighth grade students receive 20-25 hours of in-school curriculum prior to visiting JA. At JA, they are given lifestyle situations with a particular income, family, marital status, etc. The 13 business storefronts all have options for the students’ budget based on their income level and what is financially smart. This gives them the opportunity to make the decisions themselves and observe the consequences immediately.

“Junior Achievement strives to serve young people with age-appropriate programs that will prepare them for success in the global economy,” said Debra H. Hoffer, president of Junior Achievement of Kentuckiana. “Our partnership with Bellarmine and Dr. Cooter has allowed us to engage these college freshmen in a budgeting simulation that they will be able to start using the minute they walk out of our door. That’s the kind of timely intervention that we haven’t been able to offer before and one that builds upon what JA does with younger students.” Junior Achievement plans to utilize this new program with other colleges and universities in the Kentuckiana area. It is also offered to businesses and organizations. If your college or business is interested in participating in this financial program, please contact JA at 502-561-KIDS (5437).

Students learned how to create and manage a budget during the Junior Achievement program.
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