High school students are always looking for college scholarships to apply for, but a $1,000 scholarship sponsored by the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Charles Schwab Foundation looks like it should be required math for anyone wondering how the economy works.

It's kind of like the TV show "Are You Smarter Than a Fifth-grader?" but with more of a scholarly aspect to it. Students have to be a lot smarter for the fall National Financial Literacy Challenge; they have to get a perfect score in order to win a $1,000 scholarship. Up to 100 students can win.

Here's a sample question: If you deposit $1,000 in a savings account with a fixed annual interest rate of 5%, how much will you have in your account after two years if you make no additional deposits or withdrawals?

A. Exactly $100; B. Exactly $1,100; C. Les than $1,100; D. More than $1,100.

The other sample questions have to deal with net worth, diversified investments, fixed-rate mortgages vs. variable-rate mortgages, and a question about how to get a large mutual fund balance in 20 years, a question I suspect the Schwab co-sponsors had a lot to do with being asked. Still, some unique questions to ask I high school kid. I guarantee you I didn't know about variable-rate mortgages when I was 17; I barely understand them now that I own a house.

The deadline for taking the 35-question online test is Dec. 12. Teachers can sign up their students at the U.S. Treasury's Web site.

Aaron Crowe is an unemployed journalist in the San Francisco Bay Area. Read about his job search at www.talesofanunemployeddad.blogspot.com


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