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UNIBusiness personal finance program coming soon to Iowa area high schools

3 months ago
UNIBusiness Editor
UNI students on computers

Many of our every day decisions have a financial impact, which makes personal finance a crucial skill. It applies in almost every aspect of life. It’s especially important in high school, before students venture on their own and manage their own wealth.

In 2019, UNIBusiness’ introductory personal financial planning course will do just that — educate teenagers and young adults on how to successfully manage their own finances. The course will be renamed, Financial Skills for Smart Living, and will be shared with partner high schools. Qualified juniors and seniors who take the course can also earn college credit from UNI by passing the final exam. In addition, high school faculty who teach the course can receive professional development and support from UNIBusiness faculty and staff.

Steve Yerkes, instructor of finance, and Jennifer Anderson, business teaching coordinator and instructor, are the architects behind the new program.  Steve is a Certified Financial Planner (CFP*®) *and Jennifer has an extensive high school business teaching background.  Their combined effort is a perfect match for the program. "We see it as a way to reach out to high schools and make personal connections with these students.  We’re focused on making this a practical class — truly making it a personal finance course.”

Beginning with the graduating class of 2020, Iowa high school students must earn financial literacy credit to graduate. UNIBusiness is striving to help high school students meet this requirement and teach valuable lessons in the process with the added incentive of earning college credit.

When Yerkes started teaching at UNIBusiness on a full-time basis about a year ago, he took over the introductory personal finance course that has long been an elective in the finance curriculum. On campus, this course allows students to gain insight into the foundations of the wealth management emphasis in finance while also gaining valuable skills. With the new financial literacy requirement in the high schools, the opportunity to share the curriculum with high school teachers was created.

Anderson has taken the lead in updating the course to meet the Iowa Department of Education’s financial literacy learning objectives and practical application-focused so that it is more relevant to high school students. In one lesson, students are directed to interview older adults about their financial planning and what they would have done differently. It helps students understand that personal finance truly does affect everyone. 

“It’s very hands-on, and it’s getting students exposed to what personal finance is all about,” Yerkes said. “**We** want to get students outside of the textbook and into what people actually do in the real world. We’ve had great feedback, and it’s been a success.”

The updated personal financial planning curriculum will give students a leg up in collegiate credits and give them an important life skill. A good understanding of personal finance can help minimize poor financial choices and reduce debt down the road, ultimately decreasing the stress associated with financial worries that does impact physical health.

“It’s imperative,” Anderson said. “We’re focused on how they are applying it, and it could make the difference for the rest of their lives, whether that be minimizing student debt, making wise career choices, keeping expenses low or saving early. It could impact these individuals and their future families, and that’s important.”

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UNI Business

UNIBusiness Editor

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