Family Financial Planning

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Interinstitutional Graduate Program

Iowa State University offers a Master’s degree in Family and Consumer Sciences with specialization in Family Financial Planning. This is an interinstitutional distance education program offered entirely online. The student selects the home institution that grants the degree. After admission at the home institution, the student takes courses from each of the participating institutions: Iowa State University; Kansas State University; Montana State University; University of Nebraska; North Dakota State University; Oklahoma State University; South Dakota State University.

At Iowa State University, Family Financial Planning is a specialization within the Master of Family and Consumer Sciences degree program (MFCS-FFP) that consists of 36 semester credits. Neither a thesis nor a creative component is required. Students typically complete the program in three years while employed full time. A computer with minimum specifications, Web access, and an email address are required for completing the program.

FFP Graduate Certificate Program

The Graduate Certificate in Family Financial Planning consists of the six courses from the MFCS-FFP that contain the competencies required for the Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) Certification Examination. Students interested in attaining the CFP® credential and not a master’s degree should enroll in the certificate program.

Courses included in the FFP graduate certificate program include:

FFP 540Estate Planning for Families3
FFP 545Retirement Planning, Employee Benefits, and the Family3
FFP 555Insurance Planning for Families3
FFP 565Personal Income Taxation3
FFP 583Investing for the Family's Future3
FFP 595Financial Planning - Case Studies3

Both the Master’s degree and Graduate Certificate programs at Iowa State University are registered with Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. As a CFP Board-registered Program, ISU FFP courses satisfy CFP Board’s education requirement, allowing an individual to sit for the CFP® Certification Examination.

Iowa State University does not certify individuals to use the CFP®, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ title. CFP certification is granted only by Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. to those persons who, in addition to completing an educational requirement such as this CFP Board-Registered Program, have met its ethics, experience and examination requirements. (CFP Board of Standards web site:

Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. owns the certification marks CFP®, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ and the federally registered CFP (with flame logo), which it awards to individuals who successfully complete initial and ongoing certification requirements.

Admission Procedures: Admission to the FFP Certificate Program requires exactly the same procedures as admission to the Graduate College. See Graduate College section in the catalog.


Students choosing to receive their degree from Iowa State University complete all the admissions, registration and fee payment processes through ISU.

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Courses primarily for graduate students, open to qualified undergraduates:

(3-0) Cr. 3. F.S.SS.

Theories of family functioning, macroeconomic theory related to family resource allocation decisions, the family as an economic unit, and the interaction of the economy and families. (on-line course offering via Distance Education).

(3-0) Cr. 3. F.S.SS.

Microeconomic theory as it relates to family resource allocation decisions, theories of household behavior, the lifecycle hypothesis, behavioral economics, behavioral finance, theories of behavioral change, and psychological theories of family well-being. Focus on empirical research investigating household financial decision-making. (on-line course offering via Distance Education).

(3-0) Cr. 3. F.S.SS.

The nature and functioning of financial systems, including currencies, markets, monetary and fiscal policy, and supply/demand for land, labor, and capital. Focus is on the impact of global financial interdependence on individuals and families in the U.S. Current and emerging issues, as well as current research and theory relative to financial systems. (on-line course offering via Distance Education).

(3-0) Cr. 3. F.S.SS.

Theory and research regarding the interactive process between the client and the practitioner, including communication techniques, motivation and esteem building, the counseling environment, ethics, and methods of data intake, verification, and analysis. Other topics include legal issues, compensation, uses of technology to identify resources, information management, and current or emerging issues. (on-line course offering via Distance Education).

(3-0) Cr. 3. F.S.SS.

Fundamentals of the estate planning process, including estate settlement, estate and gift taxes, property ownership and transfer, and powers of appointment. Tools and techniques used in implementing an effective estate plan, ethical considerations used in providing estate planning services, and new and emerging issues in the field. Case studies provide experience in developing estate plans suitable for varied family forms. (on-line course offering via Distance Education).

(Cross-listed with HD FS). (3-0) Cr. 3. Alt. SS., offered even-numbered years.

The role of housing and real estate in the family financial planning process, including taxation, mortgages, financial calculations, legal concerns, and ethical issues related to home ownership and real estate investments. Emphasis on emerging issues in the context of housing and real estate. (on-line course offering via Distance Education).

(3-0) Cr. 3. F.S.SS.

Study of micro and macro considerations for retirement planning. Survey of various types of retirement plans, ethical considerations in providing retirement planning services, assessing and forecasting financial needs in retirement, and integration of retirement plans with government benefits.(on-line course offering via Distance Education).

(3-0) Cr. 3. F.SS.

Overview of the topics relevant to the financial planning process that address the unique needs of military service members and their families. (on-line course offering via Distance Education).

(3-0) Cr. 3. F.S.SS.

In-depth study of risk management concepts, tools, and strategies for individuals and families, including life insurance; property and casualty insurance; liability insurance; accident, disability, health, and long-term care insurance; and government-subsidized programs. Current and emerging issues and ethical considerations relative to risk management. Case studies provide experience in selecting insurance products suitable for individuals and family, study of investment options for clients including common stocks, fixed income securities, convertible securities, and related choices. Relationships between investment options and employee/employer benefit plan choices. Current and emerging issues and ethics are included. (on-line course offering via Distance Education).

(3-0) Cr. 3. F.S.SS.

In-depth information on income tax practices and procedures including tax regulations, tax return preparation, the tax audit processes, the appeals process, preparation for an administrative or judicial forum, and ethical considerations of taxation. New and emerging issues related to taxation. Family/individual case studies provide practice in applying and analyzing tax information and recommending appropriate tax strategies. (on-line course offering via Distance Education).

(3-0) Cr. 3. F.S.SS.

Challenges of managing financial planning practices including, but not limited to: business valuation, personnel, marketing, client services, ethics and technological applications. Relying both on a theoretical as well as an applied approach, students analyze case studies that provide relevant, practical exposure to practice management issues, with a strong emphasis on current research findings. (on-line course offering via Distance Education).

(Cross-listed with HD FS). (3-0) Cr. 3. F.

Evaluation of investment markets for the household. Analysis of how families choose where to put their savings. Emphasis is on using the family's overall financial and economic goals to help inform investment choices. (on-line course offering via Distance Education).

Cr. 3-6. F.S.SS.

Supervised experience in family financial planning.

(3-0) Cr. 3. F.S.SS.

Prereq: FFP 530, FFP 540, FFP 545, FFP 555, FFP 565, FFP 583
Professional issues in financial planning, including ethical considerations, regulation and certification requirements, communication skills, and professional responsibility. Students are expected to utilize skills obtained in other courses and work experiences in the completion of personal finance case studies, the development of a targeted investment policy, and other related financial planning assignments. (on-line course offering via Distance Education).