EVERFI proudly partnered with BB&T to launch a student blog contest to teachers and students who use the BB&T Financial Foundations program in their schools. Prompts ranged from what they learned about personal finance from the BB&T Financial Foundations program to what leadership means to them after taking BB&T’s Legacy Leadership.

We are pleased to announce the four winners of this year’s blog contest!

First Place Winner: Gabriel E., Robert L. Patton High School, North Carolina

My brother started his college application process in the fall of his senior year of high school. He applied to three colleges all of which were private or out-of-state and also had no cheaper, in-state choices. He also failed to complete any scholarships or grants to aid his tuition cost. He recently dropped out and is left with massive debt and now, no degree. That was six years ago and the ramifications of those mistakes are still affecting my family greatly. After completing section five: higher education, I learned the benefits of saving before college and the effect of scholarships and grants on your financial future. Because of he helpful tips provided through this program, I have began filling out my scholarships including the smaller ones because the money from those add up and free money is the best money. I filled out my FAFSA as well and filed for a work study program while in college. This program showed me I should take scholarships and grants much more seriously to help my parents and future self pay for an incredibly expensive investment of higher education. According to a tuition calculator provided by Wake Forest, my estimated cost of tuition will be $20,000 after state and university grants. So my parents and I are responsible for covering the $20,000 which I am hoping to fill through scholarships. Thanks to this program, I am now aware of the benefit of saving and chipping away at the cost of a higher education through scholarships and grants.

Second Place Winner: Lillian S., Fox Creek Charter School

“Education is the foundation on which we build our future.” This quote by Christine Gregoire perfectly displays my feelings towards education in the US. Without the skills I learned from school, I wouldn’t be able to achieve my dreams. In the future, I would like to study Agriculture at Clemson University. After college, I would like to become an Apiarist (a beekeeper) for a local farm. Without the foundations in education of economics provided by EVERFI and the BB&T Financial Foundations Program, I would have trouble reaching those goals.

Through these programs, I have learned how to start saving my money effectively, how to apply for federal aid with student loans and scholarships, and how to make smart decisions when it comes to renting versus owning a car or place to live. Using the important skill that I learned from these programs, I feel ready to start my journey past high school. I have already opened a savings account by following the instructions and tips from the module. The money that I have saved will be applied to help pay for my education and the start of my beekeeping business. I have even begun to earn interest, compounded monthly, on the money that I have saved so far. I have also started researching scholarships that will help ease the burden of paying for higher education. I am hoping to avoid taking out loans, but the cost of going to Clemson University are a bit higher than my family can afford. Since I will be paying to put myself through college, I am looking to save as much money as possible. Thankfully, EVERFI and BB&T have helped me learn more about my financial aid options when it comes to higher education. Although it is far too early for me to start looking for a place to live, I looked at the pros and cons of renting my car versus buying it. We bought my car without a loan because we had enough saved up to avoid taking out a loan.

Overall, EVERFI and BB&T Financial Foundations Program helped me begin to understand my financial future. While there is still so much for me to learn, I feel prepared to start my life outside of high school because of the very important skills that I received from these programs, including saving money, applying for financial aid, and knowing when to buy and when to rent.

Third Place Winner, Skylar M. Logan County High School, Kentucky

BB&T Financial Foundations Program has had a personal impact on my life and the decisions that I will make going forward by teaching me the basics of personal finance. As a fifteen-year-old sophomore, I was terrified at the the very thought of getting older before taking some of the lessons offered by BB&T. I was afraid of moving out into the world and being expected to know how to budget my earnings effectively, how to use bank accounts, how to file taxes, how to take out loans for college, and still be able pay for everything. It scared me out of my wits. However, with the help of BB&T, I have learned the basics banking such as using checking accounts, savings accounts, money markets, and certificates of deposit. I have learned how to pay for college by applying for grants and scholarships; applying for federal loans via FAFSA; and applying for private loans from banks, universities, and other money lenders. I have also learned what some tax forms are for: The W-4 is for setting up how much you want withheld for taxes when you start a new job, the W-2 shows tax information from your employer, and the 1040 (or 1040EZ) is used for filing taxes at the end of the tax year. While that is only three of all of the available modules offered, it is a lot of information that is very useful. This information has also quelled most of my fears for the future. Now I not only feel more prepared, I also feel more excited for what the future holds. I plan to continue learning with BB&T as I take lessons from the remaining modules. I would like to thank BB&T personally for allowing me to take part in learning about personal finance.

BB&T Legacy Winner, Guiliana D., Pikesville High School, Maryland

After completing LEGACY: A BB&T Leadership Challenge, the seemingly hopeless state of Failburg reminded me of my first year on the school newspaper. The original advisor had quit, most of the writers had graduated, and the majority of the remaining students, like me, were recent additions to the staff who had never taken a journalism class. Our new leader, while not appointed by King Alpheus but chosen through seniority, was Sara. Sara was a talented Editor-in-Chief, but she had her own fires of Failburg to battle, namely, our inexperience and consequential lack of motivation.

Yet Sara understood that she needed to be kind in order to gain our trust and respect. She would always praise us for what we did well, even if it seemed like a small achievement. Little comments on my articles like “You’re improving so much!” kept me driven to keep working harder. She would introduce critiques by first expressing admiration at our efforts or explaining how the same skill had once been difficult for her to acquire. We were not alone.

Additionally, Sara did not just tell us to “edit this page” or “grayscale that photograph” when we used the online programs to design the layout. She would teach us step-by-step, welcoming questions. She treated us like equals, as she would have her own page to edit like the rest of us, applying the same deadlines and rules to herself. And even in chaotic, stressful situations, she didn’t resort to blame; she would joke, and we’d all nervously laugh, knowing it would be okay.

Like the subjects of Failburg, we responded well to commendation, instruction, and positivity. Thankfully, due to these leadership characteristics, Sara was able to lead our staff through the successful production of several editions of the school newspaper, none of which caught fire.