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College Life | Classroom | Undergraduate

A Personal Finance Class That Teaches Skills You Will Use

One of South Dakota State University’s most popular courses is Personal Finance – FIN 280. Learn more about what this class examines and how you can apply this knowledge to your life.

The mitochondria are the powerhouse of the cell.

High school students can often recite that fact on cue, so much that it has become meme-like, because of how often it's mentioned through biology courses. Understanding cell function is important, but after graduation many students wish they’d learned more about basic life skills instead; to feel more prepared for college and their new-found independence.

One of those life skills is personal finance, which has far-reaching effects on a person’s life. Personal finance deals with how one budgets, saves and spends. It determines financial risks and credit-based decisions. SDSU students learn about personal finance and the skills to set themselves up for financial success through Personal Finance – FIN 280.

About the Class

FIN 280 is a three-credit course offered by the Ness School of Management and Economics. No prerequisites are required to take the course, meaning a student can take the class at any point in their college career. If interested, plan ahead as it fills up fast each semester and is limited to 40 students. Keep reading for a glimpse at topics covered and questions answered in the course.

Auto, Life and Health Insurance

  • Do you have a car? If so, you’re required to have car insurance on the vehicle, but why? And what are policy holder options?
  • Do you have a health insurance card in your wallet? Does it have the term “co-pay” written on it? What are deductibles, or out-of-pocket maximums?
  • What’s the difference between term and whole life insurance? How much should you really have? What are policy designees and how do you assign them?


  • Do you want to own a home? You may need a mortgage or other financing to pay for it. What interest rates apply to you? Are you eligible for grants to help pay for your new home?
  • Do you have a down payment saved for your new home? How much do you need? What is private mortgage insurance and to whom does it apply?


  • What is the difference between common and preferred stocks?
  • What types of savings accounts are there?
  • What is a 401(k)? How does a person save for retirement?

Interested in learning more about FIN 280? Contact adjunct instructor Bruce Johnson for more details.