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    22 Schools Attend Financial Reality Fair in Connecticut

    More than 550 students from 22 high schools throughout Connecticut spent Tuesday morning, March 26th, learning the challenge of living within their budget at Central Connecticut State University in New Britain. Students chose their career in advance of the Fair, researching the starting salary and how much additional school is required to start in their choice. Teachers forwarded that information prior to the Fair so each student received a personalized budget worksheet based on their individual goals.

    “Personalizing the budget worksheets is a key factor in this exercise, creating more buy in from the students up front because they can envision themselves in the position,” said Barbara Bass, Credit Union League of CT. “They are interested in participating when they see the connection to their own future.”

    Twenty-five Connecticut credit unions volunteered at the Fair Tuesday morning, along with more than 15 local businesses, showing their support for improving the financial skills of Connecticut high school students.

    Students are forced to make choices on how they spend their money. One of the first booths they hit when they walk in the door is EZ Loans, a booth added to represent high-cost credit. A student from Cromwell H.S. said, “Those guys over there [EZ Loans] told me they were helping me, but I had to get a part-time job just to pay the money back! I was doing okay until I talked to them.” Another student was overheard telling her roommate, “Don’t talk to them, they will cost you too much money!”

    A popular addition among the teachers attending the Fair was the police officer who went through the crowds of students giving tickets for speeding and/or texting while driving – an unexpected expense, but common among teenage drivers. “We love the police officer,” said a teacher from Berlin H.S. “I hope he tickets my students!” The student response was not quite so positive: “Did you get a ticket? I got one for texting…unbelievable!”

    Perhaps the best summary of the impact this experience had on some students was overheard in this conversation: “How are you doing?” “I can’t afford anything. I had to give back my goldfish!” “Yeah, this is harder than I expected.”

    Perhaps the best summary of the impact this experience had on some students was overheard in this conversation: “How are you doing?” “I can’t afford anything. I had to give back my goldfish!” “Yeah, this is harder than I expected.”
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