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“Budget Challenge” Earns Two Clawson Students $20,000 Scholarships

“Budget Challenge” Earns Two Clawson Students $20,000 Scholarshipssteele lindbloom ad

(Clawson Schools Press Release, Dec. 19, 2014)

Two Clawson High School seniors Evan DeCiantis and Wade Murley from Oakland Schools Technical Campus Southeast (OSTC) in Royal Oak were each awarded a $20,000 scholarship for their personal financial acumen in H&R Block’s Budget Challenge.

Over 13,800 students participated nationally, but only 22 students qualified for the $20,000 scholarships. Remarkably, four of the 22 students attend the Information Technology, Entrepreneurship, Advanced Marketing (iTEAM) cluster at OSTC Southeast.

During the Challenge, students endured eight weeks of personal financial decision-making in a virtual ctechadenvironment. They were presented with multiple options and made choices based on lifestyle, educational plans and employment.

The students dealt with regular real-world bills, budgets, 401K accounts, checking accounts, credit-card payments, vendors, and car options (with loans and insurance) in order to demonstrate smart consumerism, savvy investment and on-time repayment.

Importantly, students learned how to communicate with customer service departments in order to mitigate financial mistakes.

Evan DeCiantis is an iTEAM senior who attends both OSTC Southeast and Clawson High School. He realized the benefits of taking the Challenge while observing the business world locally. “I saw my mom do her own business budget,” Evan said. “I had just learned about ‘grace periods’ and understood what she was working on. It was really cool to be able to use what I learned and interact with her professionally.”  waterwork

Wade Murley, also an iTEAM senior from OSTC Southeast and Clawson High School, added, “The H&R Block Budget Challenge gave us an idea of what the real world is like. We were able to fix mistakes now that we would have made for real without this knowledge.”

The online program is not as easy as it sounds. For each smart decision, students were awarded points; for each poor choice, late payment or bad budgeting move they had points deducted from their score. Wade admitted it got a little stressful at times.

“It was good to have teammates. We could remind each other about due dates and bounce financial plans off of each other.”

Evan agreed. “There were only a few points separating the winners, so we had to be very careful about the nicholas-schrock-allstateeffects of each online life decision. We motivated each other.”

Students needed to maintain their motivation and focus for the entire eight week contest,

“There was a lot of thought and analysis that went into the students’ financial choices,” commented iTEAM Instructor Micheline Livingston. “Part of our iTEAM curriculum includes personal finance, so it was a great hands-on experience for the students. H&R Block put a lot of effort into making the Budget Challenge as real as possible.”

Both DeCiantis and Murley are dual-enrolled at Macomb Community College, and plan on a future in the business world. The Budget Challenge scholarship provided the winners with a huge boost toward a college degree.

Wade expressed their group appreciation with a wide smile: “Thank you, H&R Block!”

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