With the help of a new program at Linganore High School, senior Anthony Galletti knows a little bit more about money.
At 18, with his new skills, Galletti filed his federal income tax returns without the help of an online tax program or a tax specialist, and he even helped a family friend do his taxes last week.
“It’s not that hard once you know how to do all of it,” Galletti said.
Galletti is one of the handful of students at Linganore who has had the opportunity to know more about their finances thanks to an online program being incorporated into school course work that teaches students financial literacy.
EverFi-Financial Literacy is a six-hour online course, created by a Washington, D.C.-based company, in which students navigate through a variety of financial topics, including loans, checking and savings accounts, credit scores and mortgages.
The program uses video, animations, games, avatars, and social networking to bring complex financial concepts to life.
It is available to schools in all 50 states, including 22 schools in Montgomery County, said Bria Barker, Everfi senior schools manager for Maryland.
The Frederick County program, which will bring Everfi to five schools in the county, officially launched Tuesday in one of Linganore High School’s computer labs.
In addition to Linganore High School, the program will be offered in Urbana, Frederick, Governor Thomas Johnson and Tuscarora high schools.
Students at Linganore have already been using the program as part of the school’s career research and development class for about three weeks, completing about half of the software’s nine training modules.
Currently, students are working on the financing higher education module as part of their independent living unit, according to Jeremy Brown, who teaches the class at Linganore.
“All of the things that you can imagine us doing financially in the world, [the students] are doing in a virtual world,” Brown said.
During the launch, students played program games against representatives of Sandy Springs Bank, who through a partnership with Everfi, is sponsoring the use of the software in county schools at no cost to Frederick County Public Schools. Sandy Spring Bank officials declined to comment on how much the sponsorship costs.
Chris Roerty, 17, of Mount Airy was one of three students who was able to “Beat the Bankers” with the highest score of 850.
“[The program] is really helpful,” he said. “I knew a decent amount about finance but a lot of the stuff on Everfi really helped.”
Mandy Walsh, spokeswoman for Sandy Spring Bank, said that its important for students to learn about good financial habits as soon as possible.
“I think that the current economic crisis has made it clear that everyone needs financial education,” she said. “If we can start implementing good financial habits at an early age it can only help the students in [the future].”
The self-paced program, which students can access from home, allows them to learn financial skills without the consequences of making real-life financial mistakes, Brown said.
“Our generation kind of learned about finances through trial and error. You learned about a bounced check when you bounced a check,” he said. “So these guys are kind of seeing how it works without the fault.”
Along with helping to build students’ financial skills, the program also helps to fulfill their financial literacy requirement for graduation.
Under Maryland State Board of Education guidelines, all school systems are required to offer a financial-literacy program for students in the third through the 12th grades.
Upon completion of the Everfi program, students will receive a certificate indicating that they have met the state requirements.