New financial literacy class at Cal Lutheran



California Lutheran University’s new one-credit Introduction to Personal Finance course aims to offer tools for students to develop financial literacy by providing detailed guidance on topics from tax-filing and loans, to investments and risk management.

“There is such a thirst for knowledge, I was shocked people kept adding until the last day [to add/drop a class],” Senior Adjunct Faculty Member in the School of Financial Planning William Klepper said. “The students, they’re dying for the basic information: car loans, insurance.”

The one-credit pass/fail course is split into four sections, beginning with an overview of the tools needed for success in financial planning and one’s personal financial journey, followed by an in-depth review of earnings, how to read, review and adapt credit scores, navigating housing decision-making processes and managing savings. 

The final sections address investment and risk management and leaves students with a personal financial plan. 

According to Chia-Li Chien, director of the Financial Planning Program at Cal Lutheran, the class has been in the works for years. 

“One of the things to be noted is there are other universities that had begun mandating the [financial literacy] course,” Chien said. “We are not the first, actually we are lagging behind for the most part.” 

The U.S. Financial Literacy and Education Commission, including members from the U.S. Departments of Education and the Treasury, made a recommendation in January 2019 that higher education institutions require financial literacy courses so students, especially those with federal loans, are equipped to make financial decisions during college and after graduation. 

Twenty-four students ranging from first-year to seniors are enrolled in the course, coming from a variety of majors including psychology and political science. Chien said the course was designed to appeal to all students and prepare the student body with skills for life beyond graduation.

Klepper said though he was an economics major in college, he still went into debt and had to learn from his financial missteps. “How do you learn? The school of hard knocks, you make mistakes,” he said. This course is intended to help ease students’ transition into financial independence.

Students enrolled in the course have already learned how to use a mobile financial calculator and become acquainted with reading financial reports in the Wall Street Journal.

Klepper said the luxury of the design of this course is students will learn the basics in a plethora of subjects.

“They’re learning that your credit report affects employment,” Klepper said. “You teach them this now, the simple stuff that needs to be stated and they learn how not to get into debt.”