CFP®


The nation’s best choice for advisors studying to become CFP® professionals. ENROLL BY 7/1 AND SAVE $1,000 ON TUTION WITH PROMO CODE CFPSPRING22.


Designation at a Glance

Tuition

$4,675 (tuition may vary based on course/package choice - SAVE $1,000 UNTIL 7/1 with promo package)

Timing

Complete in 24 months or less

Format

100% online, self-study

Learning Outcomes

Get key instruction in all areas recommended by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, including:

  • Financial planning roles and responsibilities
  • Income taxation and principles of investments
  • Retirement and estate planning strategies
  • Planning for insurance needs, and more

What is the CFP® Certification Education Program?

The CFP® mark is one of the top certificates in financial planning available today, but preparing to earn it takes a broad range of knowledge and a strong educational background. Our program is meant for students and financial professionals interested in this prestigious certification and is best suited for the working advisor balancing many different responsibilities. Through our cutting-edge program and expert faculty instruction, you can set yourself up to pass the CFP® exam while furthering your education and opening new doors for personal and professional growth. FROM NOW UNTIL 7/1, you can also save $1,000 off our 7-course package program with The Dalton Review® by using promo code CFPSPRING22!

 

Why Choose Our Program?

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Graduates’ exam pass rate consistently 10-14% above national average

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Flexible yet structured learning experience through all-online Personal Pathway® program

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Nationally-recognized experts and thought leaders on faculty to further your education

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Educational packages and tuition based on your educational needs

PROGRAM DETAILS

Educational Requirements

There are no prerequisite courses required before you can begin this program other than a high school diploma or the equivalent, but to receive the CFP® mark, you must:

  1. Successfully complete the seven required courses
  2. Receive a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university
  3. Pass the CFP® exam
  4. Complete either 6,000 hours of professional experience as a financial advisor, OR 4,000 hours of apprenticeship experience

Continuing Education (CE) credit is required to maintain the CFP® mark, as well as agreeing to the CFP Board’s ethics pledge. For more information, see the CFP Board’s website.

Tuition & Fees

Our courses combine engaging live and on-demand instruction options — and no webinar fees — for one flat tuition rate. Whether you prefer self-paced or structured learning experience, your tuition is the same.

  • Individual Courses: $850 per course
  • Case-study course (HS 333): $1,060
  • Accelerated Path Capstone Program – CFP® Exam with Accelerated Path: $1,060
  • 7-Course Package: $4,675
  • 7-Course Package plus The Dalton Review®: NOW $4,570 UNTIL 7/1 WITH PROMO CODE CFPSPRING22
  • 3-Course Package (HS 333 and HS 347 excluded): $2,260
  • CFP® Exam Prep with The Dalton Review®: $1,395
  • Guarantee To Pass Review: $2,195

Tuition covers all course fees, required study materials, access to convenient online learning tools, your examinations, and other fees. Supplementary study materials and review classes are also available for an additional cost.

Program Curriculum

HS 300 Financial Planning: Process and Environment

This course provides an overview of the financial planning process, including communication techniques, behavioral finance, financial planning approaches and applications, financial statement preparation and analysis, time value of money concepts and applications, education planning and funding, economics and the external environment, and ethics and standards of conduct. Additionally, the course offers a deeper understanding of the role and responsibilities of a financial planner, along with some analytical skills to aid in the financial decision-making process.

Learning Objectives
Upon completion of this course, the student will be able to:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of and apply the steps of the financial planning process
  • Differentiate between various communication techniques used by advisors and understand how behavioral finance concepts can be used to improve client-advisor communications
  • Utilize the various financial planning approaches to quantify goals and provide actionable recommendations
  • Review personal financial statements, calculate financial ratios, and perform financial statement analysis
  • Build a foundation in quantitative techniques needed to calculate the present value and future value amounts, and solve for other relevant financial variables
  • Apply education planning and funding techniques to help clients achieve their goals
  • Build a foundation in basic economic concepts and understand how external factors may impact the financial planning process
  • Review and apply the ethics of personal financial planning within CFP Board, American College, and SEC frameworks

HS 311 Fundamentals of Insurance Planning

This course focuses on the role of planning for risk management needs. The topics covered in this course include fundamental principles and characteristics of risk management, credit risk and protection, and the concepts and applications of health insurance, life insurance, disability and long-term care insurance, annuities, property, liability insurance, and social insurance (Social Security).

Learning Objectives
Upon completion of this course, the student will be able to:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the basic concepts and principles of risk management
  • Compare and contrast the different health insurance options available to clients in the individual and group marketplaces
  • Differentiate among the various types of life insurance, including term and permanent insurance
  • Discuss principles of disability income insurance and its place in insurance planning
  • Discuss the principles of long-term care insurance and its place in insurance planning
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the different types and proper use of annuities in insurance planning
  • Identify the sources and uses of homeowners, property, and liability insurance for both personal and business uses
  • Identify the sources of identity theft, review a consumers credit report, and utilize debt management techniques
  • Demonstrate an understanding of social insurance programs such as the Social Security benefits system

HS 321 Fundamentals of Income Taxation

This course examines the federal income tax system with particular emphasis on the taxation of individuals. The topics covered in this course include the fundamentals of income taxation, the taxation of income generated from personal, professional, and investment related activities, deductions, credits, basis rules, depreciation, the taxation of capital assets, nontaxable exchanges, passive activity loss rules, the alternative minimum tax, and the taxation of business entities.

Learning Objectives
Upon completion of this course, the student will be able to:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the fundamental principles and concepts of federal income taxation
  • Compare and contrast the taxation of income generated from personal and investment activities
  • Explain the taxation of income and expenses generated from employment and profit-motivated activities
  • Understand and apply the fundamentals of deductions against adjusted gross income with emphasis on itemized deductions
  • Identify different types of tax credits and compare and contrast tax credits with tax deductions
  • Demonstrate an understanding of how basis is determined for purposes of determining taxable gains and losses, and also explain the purpose of cost recovery through various depreciation methods
  • Identify the tax advantages that certain types of business assets receive when compared to assets used for nonbusiness purposes
  • Explain how provisions in the tax code allow for tax avoidance and tax deferral through certain property exchanges
  • Explain the complexities of the passive activity loss rules along with the purpose of the alternative minimum tax system
  • Compare and contrast the tax consequences of distributions from business entities, such as partnerships, S corporations, and C corporations, to their respective owners

HS 326 Planning for Retirement Needs

This course focuses on helping businesses and individuals plan for retirement. The topics covered in this course include asset accumulation and distribution planning, qualified pension plans, qualified plan setup, administration, and termination, profit sharing plans, stock bonus and employee stock ownership plans, IRAs, SEPS, SIMPLEs, 403(b) and 457 plans, deferred compensation and nonqualified plans, Social Security benefits, and employee benefits.

Learning Objectives
Upon completion of this course, the student will be able to:

  • Analyze the factors affecting retirement planning, such as determining the remaining work life expectancy, retirement life expectancy, annual savings needed, and understanding investment considerations
  • Understand the fundamental principles of qualified plans
  • Compare and contrast the various types of qualified pension plans and determine which is the most appropriate given the needs and goals of an employer
  • Compare and contrast profit sharing plans, stock bonus plans, and ESOPs along with the advantages and limitations of each
  • Understand the tax treatment of distributions from qualified plans
  • Describe the steps involved to install a qualified plan, requirements needed to administer a plan, and what events would call for the termination of a plan
  • Discuss the advantages, limitations, and taxation of IRAs and SEPs
  • Compare and contrast SIMPLE, 403(b), and 457 retirement plans along with the advantages and limitations of each
  • Discuss the taxation of nonqualified plans and compare and contrast Social Security claiming strategies given the impact of taxation and other limitations that may apply
  • Compare and contrast employee fringe and group benefits along with the advantages and limitations of each

HS 328 Investments

In this course, students learn about the principles of investments and their application to financial planning. The topics covered in this course include an overview of securities laws and market structure, asset classifications, the taxation of investments, risk and return, portfolio theory, investment decisions and attributions analysis, market efficiency and behavioral finance, fixed income security analysis, equity security analysis and valuation, alternative investments, investment companies, and derivative securities.

Learning Objectives
Upon completion of this course, the student will be able to:

  • Understand the institutional framework surrounding investments, categorize investments by asset class, and evaluate the impact of taxation
  • Measure investment returns using various methodologies and quantify risk within a statistical framework
  • Apply the modern portfolio theory framework to the task of assembling portfolios and evaluating their performance
  • Evaluate portfolio performance using attribution and ratio analysis, and identify cognitive and emotional biases exhibited by investors along with their consequences
  • Understand how fixed income securities function and explain their role in structuring a well-diversified investment portfolio
  • Compare and contrast the various types of equity securities and the different ways to invest in these securities
  • Evaluate the factors that can affect the performance expectations of equity securities
  • Identify the features of valuing securities using absolute and relative valuation models, and identify different types of alternative investments, including the risks and benefits associated with this asset class
  • Identify the features of investment companies and evaluate fund selection techniques
  • Compare and contrast the features of derivative securities including forwards, futures, and options contracts

HS 330 Fundamentals of Estate Planning

This course covers various aspects of estate and gift tax planning, including the probate process, an overview of basic estate planning documents, types of property interests, transfer strategies during life and at death, the use of trusts, generation-skipping transfers, charitable giving, the use of life insurance in estate planning, special elections, and other post-mortem planning strategies.

Learning Objectives
Upon completion of this course, the student will be able to:

  • Identify the steps in the estate planning and probate processes
  • Identify and describe the basic estate planning documents along with the advantages and limitations of each
  • Compare and contrast the most common types of property titling along with the advantages and limitations of each
  • Understand and apply the fundaments of the gift tax system and respective planning strategies
  • Identify and classify different trust arrangements and explain the advantages and limitations of each
  • Compare and contrast advanced strategies that can be used either during the life or upon death of the client
  • Understand and apply the fundamentals of the generation-skipping transfer tax system and respective planning strategies
  • Compare and contrast advanced charitable planning strategies along with the advantages and limitations of each
  • Understand and apply the fundamentals of the estate tax and respective planning strategies, and explain the benefits of the unlimited marital deduction
  • Demonstrate the advantages of using life insurance in estate planning and explain the benefits of various post-mortem planning strategies

HS 333 Personal Financial Planning: Comprehensive Case Analysis

This course applies students' knowledge and skill set in personal financial planning techniques to a comprehensive case study. Students will integrate into a prioritized comprehensive financial plan core financial planning disciplines of: -Retirement -Investment -Risk management -Income tax -Employee benefits -General principles * Students are eligible to enroll in the capstone course (HS 333) after completing the first 6 courses of the curriculum in both the CFP Certification Education Program and the ChFC program (HS 300, HS 311, HS 321, HS 326, HS 328, HS 330). HS 333 is a course designed to bring together elements from all of the previous foundation courses, and prepares students to synthesize and apply their knowledge of the financial planning process, insurance, taxation, investments, retirement, and estate planning through the delivery of a comprehensive financial plan.

Qualified students may opt-out of the classroom hours requirement of HS 333 and move directly to completing the case study component. Learn more about the Accelerated Capstone ProgramCFP® Exam with Accelerated Path.

Enhanced Online Learning: Webinar Classes Available

For select courses, a webinar study option is available for those who want a more familiar classroom feel as part of their student experience. Attend weekly classes online and ask questions in real-time. Many of these webinar classes come complete with smartphone- and tablet-ready material. 

Program Faculty

Matt Goren
Matt Goren

Assistant Professor of Financial Planning 

CFP® Certification Education Program Director

Michale Finke Chief Academic Officer
Michael Finke

Professor of Wealth Management

WMCP® Program Director

Director for the Granum Center for Financial Security

Frank M. Engle Distinguished Chair in Economic Security

Adjunct Professor Steve Parrish
Steve Parrish

Adjunct Professor of Advanced Planning

Co-Director of the American College Center for Retirement Income

Professor Kevin Lynch
Kevin M. Lynch

Instructor of Insurance

Clark/Bardes Endowed Chair in Retirement Planning and Non-Qualified Deferred Compensation

Thomas M. Brinker, Jr.

Adjunct Professor of Taxation and Special Needs Planning

ChSNC® Program Director

Director of the American College Center for Special Needs

Professor Sophia Duffy, Associate Dean
Sophia Duffy

Associate Vice President of Curriculum Quality

Associate Professor of Business Planning

 

FAQs

Normally students spend approximately 45 to 60 hours per course for each of the seven courses in the program, each containing 14 weeks worth of material. In total, plan to spend around 24 months preparing for the CFP® exam.

Upon enrolling in each course, students are given a four-month window to complete that course, plus the remainder of the month in which they enrolled. There is no deadline on how long you have to complete all seven courses.

Tuition includes all fees, your final exam, and course materials. For a complete listing, view the Tuition & Fees section.

Program tuition can be paid on a per-course basis, or packaged together as a program for a reduced rate, with multiple options available. To see our current tuition rate and options, view the Tuition and Fees section.

There are no prerequisites required to take program courses other than a high school diploma or the equivalent; you may begin at any time. However, in order to be awarded the designation, you must meet all necessary requirements of the CFP Board.

To enroll in the program, contact an admissions advisor at 888-263-7265 or click here to begin our online enrollment process.

The CE credit value of courses depends upon your individual state. For more information, see our CE Credit Listing page or check your state’s guidelines.

The Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC®) designation and the  CFP® certification are two of the most common financial certificates. Professionally, they are similar, but what is required to earn each of the certifications varies greatly.

To earn ChFC® certification, you will have to take eight different courses, but only seven to earn a CFP® certification. The people who go for CFP® certification are required to sit through a lengthy board exam. This is not the case with ChFC® certification, which requires the candidate to take a test when each course is completed. 

If you intend to pursue a career as a financial professional, you will be inclined more toward helping your clients manage their personal finances for the future. Your duties will vary according to your clients’ needs. You will be expected to understand your client's financial status and aid them when needed. These duties include helping them save for retirement, start a college fund, or any number of financial goals. Both CFP® certification and our ChFC® program can help with this.

View our course comparison chart to see how these courses overlap — and how you can earn multiple designations faster.

To earn your CFP® mark, you must fulfill the following certification requirements:

 

Education Requirement

The educational requirement has two parts: first, complete the required coursework in personal financial planning, estate planning, risk management, professional conduct, and other subjects covered on the CFP® exam through a CFP Board registered program before taking the exam; and second, receive a bachelors degree or higher from an accredited college or university up to five years after the date you pass the exam (degree may be in any discipline, not just financial services).

 

Exam Requirement

In addition to the education requirement, financial professionals looking to earn their certification must first take the CFP® exam: a 170-question, multiple-choice test consisting of two three-hour sessions over the course of one day. The exam includes stand-alone and scenario-based questions, as well as more detailed case studies. For more details on preparing for the exam, check out our blog post.

 

Experience Requirement

To qualify for CFP® certification, you must also complete either 6,000 hours of professional experience as a financial advisor or related to the financial planning process, or 4,000 hours of apprenticeship experience. You can fulfill the experience requirements either before or after you take the exam.

 

Continuing Education Requirement

Once a financial professional has been approved for the CFP® mark, they will need to recertify with 30 hours of continuing education (CE) credit every two years, including three hours of ethics CE credit. The American College of Financial Services offers many programs with opportunities to earn CE credit.

 

Ethics Requirement

As part of earning your CFP® certification or any other financial planning credentials, you must agree to adhere to high ethical and professional standards as a financial advisor and to act in the client's best interest during the financial planning process.

The CFP Board oversees the CFP® mark. The CFP Board determines and enforces the standards for the certification.

The exam for certification is considered challenging. Through study and exam prep, such as The Dalton Review®, The American College of Financial Services ensures students are well prepared to sit for the exam.

Completing a professional certification program is recommended for people looking to begin or enhance a career in financial planning. 

Yes, certification coursework is for a professional certificate. Meeting all qualifications, including successful completion of the course, earns you the mark.

By the end of your certification process, you will have an in-depth understanding of investing and accounting financial analysis. You will also develop strong communication and listening skills. Since certified financial planners work closely with their clients, your certification will also help you polish your interpersonal skills. Certifications will help you enhance your problem-solving ability. You will have a well-honed understanding of the appropriate products and services needed to handle your clients’ financial problems.

The best certification for you as a financial advisor depends on your area of expertise and the career you intend to pursue. Financial advisor certifications may not be required, but are highly encouraged and supported by brokerage firms. Once you plan on pursuing a financial certification, it would establish your professional expertise in the financial services industry, whether the focus is on accounting, financial planning, investing, or other areas. 

Continuing education courses let you develop your knowledge and skills in a specific area, and are very important for many financial planning certifications. CFP® certification continuing education keeps financial planners up-to-date with what is new within the financial sector. For financial planners, learning is a never-ending process. As a professional financial planner, you will find CFP® certification CE beneficial throughout your career. 

As a CFP® professional, you will be required to complete 30 hours of continuing education in regular reporting periods. This includes two hours of CFP board-approved ethics CE and 28 hours of CFP® certification CE covering one or more of the CFP Board’s principal topics. The work is intensive and may require some effort. You’ll learn about such topics as securities, insurance, retirement planning, wealth management, and more. CFP® certification continuing education is essential to keep your certification valid.

Yes, it does. You have to renew your certification every two years, before your certificate's expiry date. Identify the date of your need for renewal and secure the needed CE credit as quickly as possible. Do not wait for the expiry date before planning a renewal; otherwise, you will not be able to accumulate all the needed CE credit.

First of all, you will have to renew your certification; for that, you will have to pay an annual fee. You will also be required to submit a renewal application. It should be noted the annual certification fee is non-refundable, and acceptance of the fee payment does not guarantee or imply it will maintain your certification. After that, you must complete your continuing education (CE) requirement. Please keep in mind that your certificate expires after two years. Therefore, all your reported CFP® certification continuing education hours must be sent to the CFP Board before the date of expiration.

You can also explore the webinars arranged by The American College of Financial Services to earn needed CE credit.

The ChFC® and CFP® certification are both general financial planning certifications and demonstrate the certificant has expertise in the foundational issues all planners face when working with clients. 

This similarity is demonstrated most notably in the education requirement for each certificate: all seven of The College’s CFP® Certification Education Program courses are also courses in the ChFC® program. Many students take the eighth course in the ChFC® program and sit for the CFP® exam to earn both certifications.

Another similarity is that both certifications require 6,000 hours of financial planning experience within five years of meeting the other requirements. In addition, both have ethics and continuing education (CE) requirements to keep the certificate active.

While their education requirements are similar, there are differences between the ChFC® and CFP® certification requirements. As mentioned above, the ChFC® program includes an eighth course, Contemporary Issues in Financial Planning. Through this course, ChFC® students learn about specialized fields of financial planning, including planning for blended families, divorcees, and more fields that are not included in the CFP® Certification Education Program curriculum.

Another major difference is the board exam requirement. After completing all necessary education and preparation, an aspiring CFP® professional is required to take a thorough exam overseen by the CFP® Board. Unlike CFP® certification, however, there is not a comprehensive board exam to pass to earn your ChFC®

A bachelor's degree from a recognized institution or university in any discipline is also required to receive the CFP® certification. ChFC® candidates, in contrast, do not need a bachelor’s degree.

Because the courses The College offers are CFP Board-registered, our courses satisfy the CFP Board's educational requirement and provide insight into real-world situations. We offer seven courses so our students can acquire an enhanced understanding of financial planning. The seven courses are:

1.       Financial Planning: Process and Environment

2.       Fundamentals of Insurance Planning

3.       Fundamentals of Income Taxation

4.       Planning for Retirement Needs

5.       Investments

6.       Fundamentals of Estate Planning

7.       Personal Financial Planning: Comprehensive Case Analysis

At The College, the courses above are offered by experienced instructors with proven track records in the field of financial planning. These instructors provide engaging coursework to the students throughout their certification education and help our students consistently pass their exams at rates 10-15% above the national average.

The CFP® certification capstone course is one that will challenge students to amalgamate, synthesize, integrate, and apply elements of overall financial planning. It will also require students to apply the CFP Board’s practical standards and implement all the duties of the financial planning process. The Capstone course will develop the skills and abilities required in the career you intend to pursue. It will enhance your knowledge as a financial planner and evaluate your capability to produce responsible financial planning assistance to clients.

The CFP® exam is a 170-question exam designed to test your skills and aptitude regarding real-life financial planning situations and demonstrate that you can properly apply financial knowledge and industry insights. The examination lasts for six hours and is fully computerized. The exam is divided into two three-hour sessions, with a lunch break of 40 minutes in between. This examination takes place three times a year, usually in March, July, and November. It is offered for eight days at 265 testing sites across the U.S. 

The overall pass rate for the CFP® exam was 63% in 2020. The pass rate has remained consistent since 2016, when the new exam blueprint was introduced, so it is safe to say it is very rigorous. You have to begin preparing for the CFP® exam months before you plan to sit for it. You will have to be consistent with your studies and will have to put in a lot of effort, including studying topics such as securities and what it means to be a financial professional, as well as showing competency in all areas. To summarize, you must have a clear knowledge of what you want and what is expected of you in order to pass your exam.

The American College of Financial Services is one of many providers of coursework that allows you to meet the CFP® certification education requirement. Students who engage with The College’s program pass their exam at rates that are consistently 10-15% above the national average - so there is some evidence that a quality program leads to higher pass rates!

That said, the coursework itself is not intended to directly prepare you for the exam; rather, we strongly encourage you to complete a dedicated CFP® Exam review course. 

Well before your exam day, make sure that you have completed all necessary coursework and gone through all the case studies depicted in our program. Stay focused once you begin studying, because many aspiring financial planners begin preparing for the exam, but only a small fraction of them complete it. As a result, maintaining consistency is critical!

Even if you have been an exceptional student your whole life and met the educational requirements, it will be quite difficult to study for the exam on your own. This is because you would have to search on your own for all the up-to-date facts, figures, and materials required to prepare, which represents an immense body of specialized knowledge. 

Generally, you will need help from experts to prepare for the exam and, once you pass, you will be one step closer to earning your CFP® certification (you must also meet certain other qualifications, such as holding a bachelor’s degree). At The College, we provide the highest-quality CFP® exam preparation education for potential candidates. We make sure that our students appearing for the exam are well-prepared and well-equipped so they can achieve their goal of acquiring their certification, including review courses made available through our partnership with Dalton Education.

While The College’s CFP® Certification Education Program will prepare you in many ways for the CFP® exam, it is generally recommended that serious students seek out additional exam review courses to be properly prepared for their exam. Exam review courses will not only cover the materials, knowledge, and principles to be included in the exam, but will walk students through testing strategies, test dynamics, question format, and other information critical to success.

The College does not offer its own exam review courses, but currently partners with Dalton Education to offer exam review programs such as The Dalton Review™. Students taking this exam review get a discount when they are students in The College’s programs; however, there are many other review courses available on the market for students to take.