Archive for Wednesday, May 9, 2007

KU to offer new class: Personal Finance 101

May 9, 2007

Freshmen and sophomores will get a chance to learn about real-life financial issues -- avoiding credit debt, developing a budget, saving for retirement and more -- as part of a new course to be offered this fall through Kansas University's School of Business.

The class, FIN 101: Personal Finance, is intended to help nonbusiness majors avoid major financial problems that often can spiral out of control, even in college.

"It's more or less a survival toolkit for young people in working through their financial matters," said Doug Houston, a professor of business and director of finance, economics and decision sciences for the business school. "They'll have an opportunity to work, in real time, on the financial matters that affect their own lives.

"It's not just a theoretical course. It's one where they get, actually, 'Yes, you have to create a budget.' And, 'Yes, you've got to keep your money spending within that budget.' Things of that nature are really important -- it's the acting that really matters."

Samira Hussein, a professor of business administration at Johnson County Community College, will teach the class on the Lawrence campus. At Johnson County, she teaches a self-paced Personal Finance course.

At KU, the course -- an elective carrying three hours of credit -- will include 90 minutes of in-class time each week, supplemented with interaction and feedback using a dedicated Web site. Students will maintain a monthly diary to track their spending habits, then develop budgets based on their spending.

Instruction topics will include banking, insurance and property rentals and purchases. Students also will study a variety of investment options, to get them started in planning for retirement.

"It isn't just a matter of laying the knowledge in front of them -- we could always beat people over the head with more books -- but really it's the hands-on application, I think, that might bring some of this home," Houston said. "It's not brain surgery. ... We're trying to improve the quality of the financial acumen of the average KU student, and I hope we do it in a way that makes their parents happy, too -- because, seriously, they're some of the people who were yelling loudest that we do this, and we're responding to that."

KU will offer two sections of the class, each with enrollment limited to 60 students.

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