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As College Debt Grows, High School Class Prepares Students For What Lies Ahead

On a recent morning, a group of sleepy juniors and seniors at Cary-Grove High School in northwest suburban Cary listened as teacher Laura Jacobson talked about repaying college debt in a family and consumer science class.

She was teaching them personal finance, which can be an abstract concept to a bunch of teens. But Jacobson wanted to get through to them, and that’s why she got personal. She has two adult children who she helped pay off college loans. She brought in their actual financial statements.

“I put up their account statements and it showed how much interest I paid and how long it took me to pay it,” she said. “They said, ‘You owe that much?’ and I go, ‘Yeah, I didn’t have the money in savings. I had to take a couple loans out.’”

The curriculum is part of a semester long course called finEDge, a program created by the University of Chicago and Magnetar Capital Foundation. The curriculum focuses on personal finance, with a heavy focus on student loans.

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