Personal finance program becoming available to Iowa high schools

Financial students in the classroom


Beginning with the graduating class of 2021, Iowa high school students must earn financial literacy credit to graduate. UNI’s College of Business Administration (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.


In 2019, UNIBusiness is starting an introductory personal financial planning course that will educate teenagers and young adults on how to successfully manage their own finances. The course, Financial Skills for Smart Living, 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.


“We see it as a way to reach out into high schools and make personal connections with these students,” said Steve Yerkes, instructor of finance and one of the architects behind the new program. “We’re focused on making this a practical class — truly making it a personal finance course.”


While the course will meet the Iowa Department of Education’s financial literacy learning objectives, Yerkes also focused on practical applications, making it even more relevant to students. In one lesson, Yerkes asks students to interview older adults about their planning and what they would’ve 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. “I wanted to get people 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.”