NJ CUs Offer Reality Check, REAL Solutions

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HIGHTSTOWN, N.J.-The New Jersey Credit Union League and the New Jersey CU Foundation reported the state's credit unions have now provided Reality Fairs for six high schools in the state, with some 825 students having attended. The fairs, which are designed to be interactive financial literacy tools, are being underwritten by a grant from the National Credit Union Foundation's REAL Solutions program. One school even asked that the Reality Fair be repeated so that the entire freshman class could participate.

"Through REAL Solutions, we are looking to offer more Reality Fairs in New Jersey and around the country," said Lois Kitsch, NCUF's National REAL Solutions Program Director. "We hope more credit unions and leagues use this effective financial literacy tool to make a positive impact in the lives of high school students in their community."

Since starting their Reality Fair initiative, the New Jersey Credit Union Foundation said it has had many other school districts and organizations express interest in hosting fairs and in participating in the program.

In the Reality Fair program, students experience some of the financial challenges they will face when they start life on their own. Students identify their career choice and starting salaries then complete a budget sheet requiring them to live within their monthly salary while paying for basics such as housing, utilities, transportation, clothing, and food. Additional expenditures such as entertainment and travel are factored in as well.

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