10 Free Online Personal Finance Courses for College Students
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Many students who enroll in a degree program after graduating high school are immediately expected to make huge financial decisions about paying for college. One survey found that only 40% of incoming students at four-year colleges and universities had taken a personal finance course.
Understanding money and how to budget can help you graduate from college on a better financial path. And you don't have to take expensive courses to improve your financial literacy — in fact, you can find several free personal finance classes online.
Here are 10 free resources to learn about personal finance for college students.
1. Financial Planning for Young Adults — University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Developed by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, this beginner class helps young adults learn introductory financial planning concepts. This self-paced setup offered through Coursera includes eight modules and takes about 20 hours to complete.
Learners explore subjects such as setting financial goals, budgeting, and saving strategies through lecture-style videos and short video vignettes. The course is free, but you can pay a fee to receive a certificate. Financial aid is available.
2. Personal and Family Financial Planning — University of Florida
Offered through Coursera, this introductory financial planning course is designed to help students develop good financial habits during school and beyond. The fully online class offers flexible due dates and takes about 15 hours to complete. Topics include understanding financial statements and budgets, personal income tax, and building and maintaining good credit.
Students can enroll in the course for free and receive a certificate for a fee. Coursera offers financial aid through an application process.
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3. Behavioral Finance — Duke University
Using a mixture of lecture-style videos and readings, Duke's behavioral finance course delves into the reasons behind our financial decisions and how people can make better decisions in the future. This five-hour course is offered entirely online through Coursera.
Course topics include understanding consumer choices and common behaviors around money. Specific lectures include recognizing biases that impact financial decision-making and how to improve your financial decisions.
Although this course is hosted by Duke, you will not receive any credit through the college. You can pay to receive a certificate through Coursera, however.
4. Planning for a Secure Retirement — Purdue University
Purdue offers this online self-paced course on planning for retirement. While you may still be a long way off from retirement, it's never too soon to start thinking about it.
The course is 10 modules long. Each module comes with readings, sources for additional information, and activities to complete. Course topics include collecting social security, understanding Medicare, and what expenses to expect in retirement.
Note that Purdue does not offer any credit or a certificate for completing this course.
5. Personal Finance 101: Everything You Need to Know — Udemy
Personal Finance 101 is a free course created for people who want an accessible, in-depth beginner's course on introductory financial topics. Offered by MoneyCoach and hosted by Udemy, this class uses short animated videos about specific concepts. Content spans about three hours across 52 videos.
The free course includes access to all the online content. Students can pay for the course to earn a certificate of completion and get direct email access to the instructor.
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6. Personal Finance — Purdue University
This instructor-led personal finance class offered by Purdue takes approximately five weeks to complete, with most participants spending about 3-4 hours on material each week.
The course, hosted by edX, is split into four modules: investments, insurance, credit, and retirement. Each module is designed to stand on its own. You can audit the course for free or pay a fee for unlimited access to the course materials and a certificate of completion.
7. Saving and Budgeting — Khan Academy
Khan Academy offers several free personal finance courses, including these modules on saving and budgeting. Course material is delivered through video lessons and short reading materials. Topics in saving and budgeting include perspectives for individuals as well as families.
Specific financial advice includes how much of your paycheck you should save and how to talk to your kids about money. Course material is entirely self-paced. Khan Academy does not offer certificates for completing these modules.
8. Finance for Everyone: Smart Tools for Decision-Making — University of Michigan
Hosted by edX, the University of Michigan offers a finance course that homes in on smart tools for decision-making. The free course is completely self-paced and takes about six weeks to complete if you spend about five hours on it per week.
This class examines decision-making specifically around big financial decisions, like whether you should rent or buy a home and taking out loans to attend school.
While you can audit the course for free, you can receive unlimited access to course materials and a certificate of completion if you pay a fee.
9. The Core Four of Personal Finance — Udemy
Created by BrainyMoney, these modules take you through the four core principles of personal finance: earn more than you spend, pay off all your debt, cut your spending, and invest monthly. Over 24 sections, this introductory course covers a variety of financial topics, including managing debt, understanding investments, and recession basics.
This course is free for a limited trial period and includes over five hours of instructional videos, downloadable resources, and short readings. Participants who pay for the course can earn a certificate.
10. Personal Finance Courses — Brigham Young University
Brigham Young University offers a variety of online financial courses at the beginning, intermediate, and advanced levels. All courses are available for free. Because BYU is affiliated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — widely known as the Mormon church — personal finance courses may include faith-based principles.
One beginner course on personal finance examines budgeting, debt, and investments. Advanced courses cover more complex topics like retirement planning and advanced investing.
BYU does not offer college credit or certificates for these courses but does provide many free resources along with the course materials.
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