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Obama Administration Announces Start of Exam for 2011 Financial Capability Challenge

Starting yesterday, high school-aged students across the country will begin taking a voluntary online exam as part of the 2011 National Financial Capability Challenge. The Challenge is designed to enhance the financial capability of high school-aged youth across the United States by strengthening their knowledge of the basics of saving, budgeting, and investing. 

“All of us - parents, educators, policymakers and students - share the responsibility to ensure that young people in our country learn a set of practical skills that will help them navigate important personal financial decisions,” said Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner. “This Challenge will help students understand basic finance. It will help them understand what it means to save for retirement. And it will help them understand the risks and benefits associated with debt from things like car loans and credit cards.  Empowering students with this knowledge is important for the long-term strength of our economy.” 

“Our goal is for every student in the nation to get a world class, well-rounded education,” said Education Secretary Arne Duncan, “and that includes preparing them to make critical financial decisions.  I hope the Challenge not only helps high school students get smart about money, but encourages more states and schools to make financial education a priority in classrooms as early as kindergarten.”

The voluntary online exam will be available to students today through April 8. Last month, the Department of the Treasury posted an Educator Toolkit on Challenge.Treas.gov to help teachers prepare students for the exam. From saving for college and retirement to managing expenses like cell phones, the exam tests a wide array of topics that together constitute a basic understanding of personal finance. 

All high school teachers and other educators working with U.S. high-school aged students (ages 13-19) are encouraged to register for the Challenge, download the Educator Toolkit, prepare their students, and administer the online exam. 

Later this spring, a group of the highest scoring students will be recognized through a national awards ceremony in Washington, DC. The educators and students who place in the top 20 percent nationwide will receive official award certificates.