PALO ALTO, Calif., Jan. 21, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Next Gen Personal Finance (NGPF), a non-profit committed to ensuring that ALL students leave high school with the financial skills needed to thrive in the future, is pleased to recognize the National Grand Prize and Honorable Mention award recipients in their 4th annual PAYBACK Challenge Scholarship Contest.

Congratulations to the National Grand Prize winners who each will receive a $2,500 scholarship from NGPF to be used for educational purposes:

  • Alexandra Hovdestad of Lenape High School (Medford, NJ)
  • Andrew Tomlinson of Mora High School (Mora, MN)

In addition to these two National Grand Prize scholarship winners, 45 students were recognized as Honorable Mention Award recipients with each receiving a $1,000 scholarship for educational pursuits. Click here to learn more about these scholarship winners.

Each student participating in the NGPF Payback Challenge, played PAYBACK, an award-winning college simulation game, and then chose between writing an essay or creating a video in response to the following prompt:

After playing PAYBACK, you have a better idea of what to expect in college. But, COVID-19 has changed the way college looks and feels. How will your college decision-making change because of the pandemic? Refer to relevant excerpts from the PAYBACK game to enhance your key points.

Nearly 1,000 teachers nominated the best student essay from their classes. Submissions were evaluated based on creativity, clarity, and demonstration of an understanding of key concepts learned from playing PAYBACK.

“During the contest period, over 210,000 students played PAYBACK.” noted NGPF Co-Founder, Tim Ranzetta. “It was incredible to see such creativity from students and to see the impact this game has had on their attitudes and actions as they decide on their educational path after high school. Our gratitude goes out to the educators who brought PAYBACK to their students during remote learning this year and facilitated amazing discussions that followed. With covid-19 disrupting the plans of so many students, these conversations have never been more crucial!”


Excerpts from each of the National Winners:

“The halls are vacant

The parties are over

The classes are empty

Lest we risk exposure

The economy is in a rough patch

And unemployment is high

This must be taken into consideration

When choosing where to apply

The price of college is not just tuition

As I learned from the PAYBACK game

And even though many colleges are virtual

The prices are still the same”

–Alexandra Hovdestad of Lenape High School (Medford, NJ)

“So obviously after a few playthroughs, I should be able to make nothing but smart decisions about college now, right? WRONG! We’re still forgetting about one little problem if you just want to take a look over here… COVID-19! With covid in mind, obviously a few new things must be taken into consideration when going to college. For starters I think going to community college is a better idea as one, it’s already cheaper and two, there’s no dorm rooms and obviously moving in with random strangers is a bad idea right now.”

–Andrew Tomlinson of Mora High School (Mora, MN)


PAYBACK has received Webby Awards for best Social Impact game and best Educational Game and has also been featured in the New York Times. It is a free game and one of eight games available in the NGPF Arcade.

About Next Gen Personal Finance

Next Gen Personal Finance (NGPF), has become the “one-stop shop” for more than 42,000 educators looking for high-quality, engaging personal finance curriculum to equip students with the skills to thrive in the future. NGPF curriculum has a broad reach, with more than 7 out of 10 U.S. high school students attending schools where a teacher utilizes NGPF resources. NGPF supports educators with the most comprehensive suite of PD: 7,000+ teachers participated in more than 120,000 hours of NGPF professional development in 2020. The non-profit has been recognized by Common Sense Education as a “Top Website for Teachers to Find Lesson Plans” and “Best Business and Finance Games

Media Contact: Christine Yoo,

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