Indiana State University Newsroom

Indiana State graduates first set of students in financial planning program

May 2, 2014

With the case studies of their hypothetical clients examined, bound and submitted for grading, the first graduates of Indiana State University's financial planning program breathed a sigh of relief.

"We really touched on a lot of different areas and got a holistic view of financial planning," said Brian Firestone of Terre Haute, who has a triple major in accounting, finance and financial services and completed the financial planning program.

The CFP Board, a nonprofit organization that sets the requirements for Certified Financial Planner certification, approved Indiana State's proposed curriculum for the program. The Scott College of Business offered the certificate for the first time this spring as a concentration within the finance major.

Only two new courses needed to be created for the planner program to be added to the finance major. The Scott College of Business already had most of the classes needed to fulfill the CFP Board requirements, which include courses in accounting, insurance, finance and estate planning.

Even if students aren't immediately looking to get their financial planning certification, Indiana State's financial planning program is diverse and provides lessons in insurance and retirement that every adult will need, said Jennifer Groth, a senior accounting and financial planning major from Terre Haute.

Despite the nail-biting experience she had scheduling for class the last several semesters, not knowing if the financial planning program would be in place before she graduated this spring, Groth said it all worked out and she is one step closer to being a financial planner.

"I'm glad everything came together and I feel like I learned a lot that I can use in my own life, especially when it comes to how to use money most efficiently," Groth said. "It also really helps having done internships in the field and getting experience working alongside people that do financial planning every day. It made classes easier and I learned a lot about how to talk with clients."

Indiana State is one of only two universities in Indiana to offer a board certified financial planning undergraduate degree. Indiana State's first five graduates to fulfill the CFP Board's educational requirements for certification include: Firestone, Groth and Jason Downs, all of Terre Haute, Ellen Lamb of Pendleton, and Kacie Benell of Rosedale.

The board's additional certification requirements include an examination, several years of work experience, and recognizing and understanding the ethics required in personal financial planning.

"The financial planning program really sets the Scott College of Business apart from other universities, and it is happening at a time when the financial planning industry really needs it, as Baby Boomers are retiring," said Downs, who is graduating with a Master of Business Administration degree with a concentration in financial planning. "Even if someone in the financial planning program decides not to pursue the certification, it's the kind of program that makes you better in other areas you're studying.Whether it's accounting or maybe insurance, this program will make you stronger in whatever field you pursue because they're all connected."

The program also afforded students a chance to join a financial planning club and opportunities to network with people from the community who work in the field and presented to the students during the semester.

Formulation of the financial planning program started a few years ago and took a lot of a support from faculty in the insurance, accounting and finance departments, said Sharon Robinson, finance instructor in the Scott College who helped create the new program who sees potential for the program to grow.

"It's exciting to see the first set of students graduate because there is so much talent in these five students. None of it would have been possible, though, without the support of so many people in the College of Business," Robinson said. "Indiana State has strong majors in accounting, insurance and finance, and it's all linked together in the financial planning program."

Contact: Sharon L. Robinson, instructor of finance, Scott College of Business, Indiana State University, 812-237-2091 or

Writer: Betsy Simon, media relations assistant director, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-7972 or