This article was co-authored by staff writers Kelvin Yamada and Lucy Dajani.

A “normal” freshman year is followed by a two-year pandemic dead zone. Most graduates will enter the job market next spring. Applied personal finance classes help you face challenges like negotiating salaries, paying off student loans, budgeting for an apartment, and establishing savings habits for a more secure future.

In the fall of 2016, the College of Innovation and Design piloted a class for students interested in learning about financial health. Whitney Hansen, adjunct professor at the College of Innovation and Design, has successfully met the Boise State Curriculum Commission’s stringent class requirements to officially add a new course in 2017.

Hansen holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting and a master’s degree in business administration from Boise State University. She coaches her personal finances and hosts The Money Nerds Podcast.

“A lot of student-athletes are taking courses, and I have a lot of seniors,” said Hansen. “That’s when life becomes real, isn’t it? You have student loans and you have to figure out how to negotiate your salary. All those things are a little more important.”

University of Innovation and Design
[Photo of Boise State’s College of Innovation and Design, located on the second floor of the Albertsons Library.]
Elise Ledesma | Arbiter

Hansen said she sees student-athletes in particular taking her course because she has a good relationship with the physical education department. She admits that the track and field wants its student-athletes to have a good financial education. Previous students have enjoyed the classes, and word of mouth keeps student-athletes signing up for the course.

“Yes, this class is definitely worth taking,” says Holly Stewart, a junior communications major who competes on the Boise State University tennis team. “This is the first time many athletes have been given money and it helps them be informed about how to save or spend or spend their money wisely while away from home.”

According to Forbes magazine, the average debt for seniors graduating in 2019 is $29,000, 92% of which is federal grants. Hansen herself left school with her $30,000 debt. She got her two jobs, budgeted and paid off her debt in 10 months.

Hansen’s classes teach budgeting, savings, insurance, taxes and investments. Popular topics in the class are setting up side hustles for extra income and how to travel economically. She said her research projects have consistently received positive feedback. Each student chooses a topic of personal interest to investigate and explore. Student topics include how to flip shoes on eBay, how to start a landscaping business, and how to talk to your partner about money.

“They are really diverse topics…that’s also a really fun part of the class,” said Hansen.

Hansen credits the College of Innovation and Design Venture College for helping her launch her own business as a personal finance coach.

Karla Van Sant, interim associate director at Venture College, said: “She’s one of those unicorns who’s done a great job.”

The two pieces of feedback Hansen receives each semester in his course evaluations are ‘I wish I had to take this class’, ‘I wish it was required’, and ‘I wish I had my personal funding sooner’. That’s what it means. “It’s a problem. It really is. I’ll do anything to get the class in front of more students. That would be great!”

Follow Hansen on Twitter @whitneyhansenco.

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