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Free, online financial planning course

Published January 12, 2017
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URBANA, Ill. – Young adults and others who resolve to be financially prepared for 2017 and beyond can take a free, online financial planning course at their convenience. Now open for registration, the course provides an introduction to financial planning, including the benefits of a career in the field.

Financial Planning for Young Adults is a Massive Open Online Course or MOOC that provides an introduction to basic financial planning concepts. It is open to the general public through Coursera, an education platform that partners with universities worldwide to offer courses free of charge.

For more information about the course and to register, visit https://www.coursera.org/learn/financial-planning.

The course was developed through a three-way partnership between the Center for Financial Planning Board, the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences at the University of Illinois, and University of Illinois Extension.

“This course will not only help participants better plan for the future, but it is a great introduction to a career in financial planning as we seek to attract and develop the next generation of financial planners,” says Charles Chaffin, director of Academic Home for the CFP Board Center for Financial Planning.

The course can be taken for free, or, for a $49 fee, students have full access to every element in the course, including graded assessments and a course certificate with all instructors’ signatures. Those who choose to audit the course free of charge will have access to all elements, but will not be able to submit assignments to be graded. Consequently, audit participants will not receive a course certificate for course completion. The course is not a replacement for any portion of the education requirements for CFP® certification.

“This course is for people to learn more about how financial planning can impact their lives in a positive way. It is also for people who are interested in the field of financial planning and maybe even thinking about becoming a CFP® professional,” says University of Illinois Associate Professor of Agricultural Economics Nicholas Paulson.

Within each module, students will view a combination of traditional lecture-style videos, along with video vignettes that introduce financial topics for discussion among the course participants.  Each of the videos introduces a real-world scenario where financial decisions must be made and financial planning concepts can be applied. Although the videos were produced with young adults in mind, Paulson believes they will help engage students of any age. The videos will help all students in the course think critically and decide how they would resolve the financial situation presented.

The course is organized across eight separate modules within a 4-week window:

1) Setting Financial Goals and Assessing Your Situation

2) Budgeting and Cash Flow Management

3) Saving Strategies

4) The Time Value of Money

5) Borrowing and Credit

6) Investing

7) Risk Management

8) Financial Planning as a Career

Paulson and Chaffin are co-developers and instructors of the course, along with U of I Extension Consumer Economics Educator Kathy Sweedler. The course also includes information about career opportunities in financial planning with advice from CFP® professionals across the country.

“Because financial planning is such a personal topic, students will be encouraged to define their own financial goals and objectives while we discuss concepts and provide tools that they can apply to reach those goals,” says Sweedler.

U of I has worked with CFP Board in the past and offers a bachelor’s degree in financial planning. Students study finance and economics as they apply to individuals, households, and small businesses in the course of accumulating and using financial resources. All students who graduate with a degree in financial planning from U of I’s Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics are eligible to sit for the CFP® certification exam.