Beta Alpha Psi Volunteers at Quicken Loans JA Finance Park

November 14, 2019

Are you excited about paying taxes? Middle school students from Chandler Park Academy sure weren’t, especially when it was “their” money.

On a recent field trip to Quicken Loans Junior Achievement Finance Park, middle school students from Chandler Park Academy experienced what it’s like to have taxes withheld from their paychecks, among a host of other real-world financial obligations. Finance Park is an interactive simulation in which students are randomly assigned a persona that includes a job, salary, credit score and number of members living in their household. Students are then tasked to create a budget to pay for the necessities of life, including food, clothing, and shelter, as well as a few indulgences, such as a new car and a vacation. 

The middle school students did not face this task alone, however. Members of the University of Michigan-Dearborn’s chapter of Beta Alpha Psi (BAP), an international honors organization for students and professionals in the fields of accounting, finance, and information systems, were there to assist them. The College of Business students acted as advisors, explaining concepts such as credit scores and mortgages, as well as offering encouragement and financial advice.

Subjects like math and science are covered in middle school, but personal finance is rarely a topic of discussion. That’s why Junior Achievement, a non-profit dedicated to promoting financial literacy and workforce readiness, created Finance Park with support from Quicken Loans.

“Seeing the faces of the students when they realize how expensive things are can be quite amusing,” said Accounting student Brennan Coyne. "Throughout the simulation, the students repeatedly exclaimed, I am so broke!”

In just one day, the middle school students had the opportunity to learn how their decisions will impact their financial future. For years, students in BAP have volunteered with Junior Achievement to help young students understand the importance of financial literacy. BAP members also offered words of encouragement and reassured the middle school students that, both in this simulation and in real life, they are capable of achieving their financial goals.

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