Starks High Student Among Winners in Inaugural PAYBACK Challenge




The following is a press release from Next Gen Personal Finance.


PALO ALTO, California, April 26, 2018- Next Gen Personal Finance (NGPF) , a non-profit
committed to ensuring that ALL students leave high school with the skills needed to thrive in an
increasingly complex financial world, is pleased to announce two students from Louisiana have
received an Honorable Mention Award in their inaugural PAYBACK Challenge. Congratulations
to Connor Santiny from The Church Academy Baton Rouge (Baton Rouge) and Valarie Says
from Starks High School (Starks).

This essay contest attracted over 500 submissions from students in all fifty states. After playing
the award-winning game, PAYBACK , students wrote a 250 word essay with the following
“ How could you use the online game, PAYBACK, to have a conversation with your
parent/guardian about paying for college?”


Teachers from over 500 classrooms nominated the best student essay. NGPF staff then
reviewed these essays, judging them based on the following criteria:

  • Indicates an understanding of key concepts learned by playing the game PAYBACK.
  • Addresses concerns their parents/guardians may have about this sensitive topic.
  • Takes a creative approach to engaging parents/guardians in a conversation about

Here’s the complete list of winners by state. Each of the 150 Honorable Mention winners will
receive a $500 award from NGPF to be used for educational purposes. NGPF will announce the
ten PAYBACK Challenge Finalists next Thursday, May 3rd.

“Over 60,000 students played PAYBACK during the contest period,” noted NGPF Founder, Tim
Ranzetta. “Reading through hundreds of essays demonstrated how PAYBACK spurred so many
thoughtful conversations between students and their parents/guardians. We applaud the
educators who provided their students with the opportunity to grapple with these challenging
decisions BEFORE they leave high school. Congratulations to the winners and to all those who

Here’s how a few students explained what they learned after playing PAYBACK:

"After completing the game, I discussed strategic ways to lower college costs with my parents. I
presented choices I made during the game, which spurred conversations of how to collectively
save money."

"Payback serves as an excellent tool. It showed me that paying for college is not only possible
but manageable, and moreover, help initiate the conversation that desperately needed to
happen between my parents and myself. College doesn't have to be impossible."

"Payback is a simulation of the real college experience. It shows that college is truly a constant
balance of focus, connections, happiness, and debt and that only with the right tools will one be

PAYBACK recently received a Webby Award for best Social Impact game and is a free game
available at

About Next Gen Personal Finance
Next Gen Personal Finance (NGPF), has become the "one-stop shop" for financial educators
looking for high-quality, engaging curriculum to equip students with skills to thrive in their future.
In just three years, NGPF's comprehensive online curricular resources and teacher training
have already been used by over 5,000 teachers in all fifty states. They love NGPF's approach
that can be summarized as the 4 Cs: Curated, Comprehensive, Customizable and Current (and
it's FREE too!).

PAYBACK Fast Facts

  • Created by McKinney, digital agency from Durham, North Carolina in collaboration with
    Next Gen Personal Finance
  • Featured in NY Times article and nominated for Webby as one of top 5 games for Social
  • Played by over 190,000 since launch in Fall of 2017
  • Average play session: 14 minutes 44 seconds
  • PAYBACK Completion Rate: 66% graduation rate with the following situations:
    ○ Healthy debt (41% of total players)
    ○ Graduate school (12%)
    ○ Too much debt (11%)
    ○ Low connections (2%)
  • PAYBACK Dropout Rate: 34%. Here were the main reasons:
    ○ Low focus (22% of total players)
    ○ Low happiness (10%)
    ○ Low connections (2%)

Media Contact
Tim Ranzetta
Next Gen Personal Finance