Instructor Guide

Financial Literacy 101 is a financial literacy education program available through hundreds of higher education institutions, credit unions, and community organizations nationwide. The program was founded in 2004 and is operated by Decision Partners, an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. The goal of the Financial Literacy 101 is to help prepare students for the financial challenges they face as young adults, including content that is appropriate for non-traditional and older students. The course is an ideal way to integrate a financial literacy component into your classroom, and makes a great homework or extra-credit assignment. The course takes approximately 90 minutes to complete.

This guide offers a curriculum overview, select materials from the course, and an additional online resource where you may find lesson plans and other materials that would complement this course in your classroom. However, this guide is not a substitute for taking the course and no multimedia content is available through this guide. We suggest you experience the course for yourself and use this guide as a planning supplement only.

Please copy and distribute these documents as needed. If you have questions or suggestions for adapting this guide or the course for classroom use, please contact us.

Curriculum Overview

Financial Literacy 101 is an online financial literacy course designed for the specific educational needs of those seeking higher education. The course is designed primarily as a harm reduction tool that helps students avoid the financial and academic harm that too often results from financial mismanagement during both full and part-time college attendance. Financial Literacy 101 helps students understand the consequences of spending decisions while in college, and also helps students understand how their financial attitudes and behaviors can contribute to student success.

In addition to a basic financial literacy curriculum, the course includes extensive customization based on each user's survey responses. For example, financially independent students (as determined by their self-reported financial aid status) receive a somewhat different version of the course that recognizes their increased financial responsibility. And all students receive personalized feedback on their financial stress levels, spending habits, and a variety of other factors based on their unique responses, encouraging critical thinking and responsible decision-making.

After registering for the course, the student is taken through a linear learning experience that uses both textual and multimedia content, in addition to interactive exercises, journaling, and quiz questions. Financial Literacy 101 includes the following content:

Module incomplete Introductory Module - A brief introduction to course goals and resources.

Module incomplete Financial Health - Concept of financial health, smart decision-making.

Module incomplete Budgeting Part 1 - Why and how to budget. Media leads up to budget calculator.

Module incomplete Budgeting Part 2 - Post-budget calc follow up. Complete the budget calc first.

Module incomplete Choosing a Bank - Types of financial services accounts.

Module incomplete Checking and Savings Accounts - Checking and savings accounts strategies for minimizing fees.

Module incomplete Managing Accounts - Account management strategies for check and savings.

Module incomplete Credit vs. Debit Cards - Pros and cons of credit and debit cards. When to use each for maximum consumer protection.

Module incomplete Credit Reports and Scores - Pervasiveness of credit in our culture, including credit reports and scores.

Module incomplete Building Credit - Understanding the decisions and behaviors that can lead to improved credit scores.

Module incomplete Identity Theft - Understanding ID theft and how to prevent it.

Module incomplete Students and Credit Cards - Special challenges of students and credit cards.

Module incomplete Financial Trouble - Spotting the warning signs of excessive debt.

Module incomplete Real World Calculator - Exercise that calculates after-college income scenarios.

Module incomplete Financial Goals - All short and long-term financial goals entered during course.

Module incomplete Conclusion Module - Financial Literacy 101 course conclusion.

In addition to the content above, Financial Literacy 101 also includes over 40 additional content modules on topics including financial aid, buying a car, insurance, and dealing with financial trouble. Please login to the course and click the "Explore" link for more information.

After completing the course, the student is given a grade based on their quiz question answers. Students may re-take missed questions to raise their score.

Course Completion Certificates and Codes

After a student completes the course, they receive a secure course completion certificate with a unique code. The course completion code may be used to verify course participation, even if you do not have access to your institution's administrative control panel.

To verify a course completion code, please use the Course Verification Tool. A link to this tool is also on the Financial Literacy 101 homepage.

Fact Sheets

Financial Literacy 101 includes the following printable fact sheets.

Student Presentation

For courses offered in a classroom or computer lab setting, we offer a brief (10-15 minute) Power Point presentation. Rather than focusing on the content of the course, the presentation concentrates on "what's in it for me?" value proposition, including common objections to learning about financial literacy in college. Students are also told what they will have accomplished at the end of their course experience, from creating a budget to getting personalized recommendations based on their survey responses.

There are two versions of the course - one that requires customization by the administrator and another that's ready as is. The customized version allows you to include your school name/logo, access code, and local contacts for financial help and information. The standard version includes the presentation and handouts.

You are free to customize these presentations in any way you wish. If you customize the presentations in a way that you feel would benefit other course administrators, please let us know and we will share your work with all of our course administrators.

Recommended Lesson Plans

In addition to our course, we also recommend the lesson plans of the National Counsel on Economic Education. For more information, please visit their web site at

The direct link to their free lesson plans is

Questions? Comments? Ideas?

If you need more information (or would like to share your ideas for improving this guide), please contact us!

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