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Ohio State-run financial academy helps students plan for the future

Program gives high schoolers primer on basics of finance

High school students from around the country gathered at The Ohio State University’s Columbus campus in June to learn the basics of financial planning. The College of Education and Human Ecology (EHE) presented its second annual Financial Planning Academy June 26-30.

In learning about financial planning as a potential career path, students also gained knowledge of personal finance, said Caezilia Loibl, a professor in EHE’s Department of Human Sciences who administers the academy.

The academy provides an overview of “how investments work, why I need insurance, what is the difference between gross and net income,” she said. “We cover all the basics, and there’s no lecturing. It’s all group work.”     

Students worked in teams to develop a concept for a personal finance app and a marketing plan to attract investors.In their group projects, students developed financial plans to assist hypothetical families with investing, retirement planning, debt management and other money management issues. Each team also developed a concept for a personal finance app and a marketing plan to attract investors.

On the academy’s closing day, teams presented their plans to a panel of judges. The panel consisted of central Ohio professional financial planners who advised the student teams throughout the week.

One of the advisers, financial planner Candace Deluca, said the project helped students gain financial literacy that will benefit them when they enter the workforce.

The students worked on “a case study of a young couple who’s just starting out in Fort Worth, Texas, and they’re trying to negotiate cashflow and where should we be spending our money,” Deluca said. “It’s real-world kinds of scenarios. … I think their eyes are definitely being opened.”

In presenting the Financial Planning Academy, Ohio State partnered with the Center for Healthy Families, Columbus State Community College and Franklin University.

“Financial planning is a relatively younger area of study, compared with accounting,” said Martina Peng, a professor who chairs Franklin University’s Department of Accounting, Finance and Risk Management. “A lot of kids, they don’t know much about this profession, and we want to help them understand this is a wonderful profession to get into. We hope that the academy will help them get a better understanding of what financial planners do.”

Jenai Wiggins, who will be a junior studying cosmetology at Columbus Downtown High School in the fall, said the Center for Healthy Families referred her to the academy. She said she learned financial management strategies that will help her achieve her goal of owning a beauty salon.

“I’ve learned more about money that I didn’t know before,” she said. “I think it’s something that will help me in the long run because one thing that I want to do is have a building and financial stability.”

Professional financial planners advised the student teams throughout the week.Alina Rakhimcyanoba, who will be a junior at Olentangy Orange High School, said she learned about 401(k)s, Roth IRAs and a multitude of financial resources.

“I think it’s so important that young people are financially literate,” she said. “I’m really interested in finances, and this academy made me realize there’s a lot of money and opportunities in the financial field.”

Aryana Chandna, who will be a sophomore at Olentangy High School, said she learned about the importance of saving and investing.

“I think that a lot of kids my age − myself included − when I first started working, you just kind of get a job because you want to go out and spend money and we really don’t think about long-term goals like college or retirement or starting a family,” she said. “It’s important for kids our age to understand that money can’t just be invested and allocated into discretionary spending. It has to go into our future.”

Sameer Ishaliq, who will be a sophomore at Rivermont Collegiate High School in Bettendorf, Iowa, said his father, who is a financial adviser, taught him the value of getting an early start on saving for retirement. The academy has reinforced the concept.

“The earlier we manage to learn about it,” he said, “then the less we have to invest over a long period of time to reach the same goals as someone who started learning when they were 30.”

Throughout the academy, Ohio State undergraduate students who are majoring in finance-related subjects served as advisers to the high school students. Noel Justice, who is majoring in consumer and family financial services, said the academy enabled her to pay forward her passion for numbers.

“Both my parents do money-related things in their jobs. When I started at the university, I knew I wanted to help someone,” she said. “I love all the budgeting and all the money-related things that you do in your regular life. And if I can teach high school students how to do that, I can really help someone.”

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