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Tennessee Department of Education Provides Resources to Improve the Financial Literacy of Middle and High School Students

Wednesday, April 17, 2013 | 07:47am

NASHVILLE—The Tennessee Department of Education, in partnership with Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU), is recruiting middle and high school teachers to enroll in a grant-funded graduate course, Teaching Personal Finance.  All teachers accepted to the course at MTSU will receive three hours of graduate credit fully paid and an $850 stipend upon successful completion.

The course is funded by the Financial Education for College Access and Success (FECAS) grant, a four-year, $1.7 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education in 2010. The Tennessee Department of Education contracted MTSU to develop, implement, and evaluate middle school and high school personal finance instructional materials and teacher training. As part of this training, the FECAS project tests how to better prepare students to apply for federal student financial aid via the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and enroll in college by implementing relevant and interactive instruction that will teach students to invest in higher education and make related financial planning decisions.

“This is a great program for Tennessee teachers and students,” said Tennessee Commissioner of Education Kevin Huffman. “Finance teachers will be better equipped to help students plan for and succeed in postsecondary education.” 

In its first two years, the project reached several goals, including revising and recasting the state’s current personal finance course to include College Access & Success subject matter, as well as developing personal finance instructional materials for both high school students and teachers. These materials have been produced under an open license and made available as open education resources online, available at Additionally, the project team supports teachers with the development of service-learning activities involving high school students and parents in their schools and communities.

“The opportunity to positively impact so many students by providing financial education for college access and success resources and curriculum for their teachers is huge.  Through these efforts, we are changing people’s futures, said Deborah Belcher, Human Sciences Department Interim Chair and MTSU Project Principle Investigator.  “Empowering middle and high school students with the knowledge of how to access and successfully complete a postsecondary degree or certification is our goal.” 

The FECAS project staff and MTSU professors conduct the 3-credit hour graduate course, HSC 6100: Teaching Personal Finance on the MTSU campus. The instruction occurs in a face-to-face classroom component—the five-day Summer Institute—and an online component through MTSU’s course content management system, Desire to Learn.  Additionally, participating students (middle and high school teachers) will attend one of several personal finance workshops provided by JumpStart, University of Tennessee Extension, or Career and Technical Education  offered throughout the summer. The teachers’ university course expenses are reimbursed through the FECAS grant.

The course curriculum includes the three newly-developed College Access & Success modules designed to be easily integrated into Tennessee’s existing Personal Finance standards: 1) “What are My Options” – instruction on navigating postsecondary institutions and courses of study, 2) “Show Me the Money” – basics of financing a postsecondary education, and 3) “How High School Impacts Your Future” – emphasizing awareness of grades and test scores on college admissions. 

To learn more about enrolling in HSC 6100 Teaching Personal Finance, please contact Courtney Starr at (615) 898-2401.

For more information, contact Kelli Gauthier at (615) 532-7817 or

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