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Offered through Coursera, course provides an introduction for both consumers and those interested in a career in financial planning

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

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. 


For over 75 years, the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics has had a forward-looking vision for excellence in teaching, research, and outreach related to important economic and social challenges. Applying relevant economics to solve real world problems is the goal.

The undergraduate program has over 650 students. In addition to a highly ranked financial planning program, the department offers concentrations in agribusiness, accounting, finance in agribusiness, consumer economics and finance, environmental economics, farm management, policy and law, and international trade and development. The program’s strengths are experiential learning outside the classroom; research opportunities in classes and through independent studies; and excellent placements both in employment and in graduate and law schools.


University of Illinois Extension is the flagship outreach effort of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, offering educational programs to residents of all of Illinois' 102 counties — and beyond.

Extension provides practical education to help people, businesses, and communities solve problems, develop skills, and build a better future. U of I Extension offers educational programs in five broad areas:

  • Energy and environmental stewardship
  • Food safety and security
  • Economic development and workforce preparedness
  • Family health, financial security, and wellness
  • Youth development

As part of the nationwide Cooperative Extension System, U of I Extension draws on research-based expertise from land-grant universities all across the country. Volunteers who serve on local advisory councils provide direction for U of I Extension programming, ensuring that programs continue to meet critical needs.

U of I Extension is based in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) and works with all colleges and units of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

CONTACT: Nicholas Paulson, 217-333-1812, 
Kathy Sweedler, 217-333-7672;             
News writer: Debra Levey Larson, 217-244-2880,


Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. is the professional body for personal financial planners in the U.S. CFP Board sets standards for financial planning and administers the prestigious CFP® certification – one of the most respected certifications in financial services – so that the public has access to and benefits from competent and ethical financial planning. CFP Board, along with its Center for Financial Planning, is committed to increasing the public’s awareness of CFP® certification and access to a diverse, ethical and competent financial planning workforce. Widely recognized by firms and consumer groups as the standard for financial planning, CFP® certification is held by more than 83,000 people in the United States.


Dan Drummond, Director of Communications
Mobile: 202-243-8621

About the CFP Board center for financial planning

The CFP Board Center for Financial Planning seeks to create a more diverse and sustainable financial planning profession so that every American has access to competent and ethical financial planning advice. The Center brings together CFP® professionals, firms, educators, researchers and experts to address profession-wide challenges in the areas of diversity and workforce development, and to build an academic home that offers opportunities for conducting and publishing new research that adds to the financial planning body of knowledge


Jessica Lewis
Communications Specialist
Mobile: 301-655-0389