TTCU Offers Free Financial Education

Contributing Writer

Tulsa Teachers Credit Union began in 1934 as a way for teachers to help teachers. For that reason, “it’s a natural fit for us to offer financial literacy education,” says Donita Quesnel, vice president of marketing.

TTCU’s FoolProof financial literacy program launched in 2011 and is available for free to the public on its website.

“It’s about giving back to the community, we want to give back to our customers as much as we can,” she says.

The credit union’s community service became particularly helpful to schools after the passage of the 2007 Oklahoma Passport to Financial Literacy Act, which requires graduating seniors to receive financial literacy instruction either through curriculum added to an existing course or through a separate course. This year’s graduating seniors are the first class that must meet this requirement.

After the act was passed, took steps to make sure area school districts were aware of FoolProof.

The financial program offers information about managing finances, including making large purchases, debt, credit cards, taxes, the consequences of gambling, investing and the importance of saving “basic financial education that people need to be successful in life,” Quesnel says. “If students don’t have these life skills behind them, it’s easy to get into overwhelming debt, which will haunt them for a very long time.”

Many local school districts have taken advantage of the program, including Union and Tulsa Public Schools.

Besides the program’s information and lack of cost, FoolProof also enables schools to easily enact the program without curriculum changes.

“It being online allows students to work at their own pace and allows the school to offer its same schedule,” says John Chargois, principal for Union High School’s 2014 graduating class. “It doesn’t interfere with normal classes.”

Students are free to work on the course based on their schedule as long as they complete it before graduation.

Union junior Reagan Tanner began the program as a sophomore and completed it in less than four months. For Tanner, the program proved to be more than just another school course to complete. “For me, it opened my eyes that after we graduate, we have our own money,” she says. “It’s not Mom and Dad’s money.

“It makes us more aware to fraud and that we have to protect our money.”

Edison Preparatory School business and information technology teacher Carolyn Leach appreciates the program’s interactive modules and videos that are narrated by young people “so students can relate,” she says.

Leach remembers one video of a real-world example in which “a student uses his debit card to buy a pizza that ends up costing him $100 because he didn’t have enough money in his account and then he incurs fees,” she says. “That one is really an ‘ah-ha’ moment for students.”

Currently, 20,000 students are enrolled in FoolProof.

“Some seniors may just view this as one more thing to do,” says Leach, “but I know that later on when they’re dealing with some of these things in their life, I know they’ll look back and appreciate what they learned.”

“If we can teach students to be financially healthy, it gives them so much more freedom to pursue goals and opportunities. If they have debt, they have few choices,” Quesnel says.

Updated 05-05-2014

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