The mathematics of money course allows students to learn mathematical techniques that aid in the understanding of life's financial decisions, such as those involving interest, annuities, investments, retirement plans, taxes, credit cards, and mortgages. The goal of this course is to help students develop the knowledge and skills needed to make sound financial decisions. The U.S. Department of Treasury has stated that "Today's complex financial-services market offers consumers a vast array of products and providers to meet their financial needs. This degree of choice requires that consumers be equipped with the knowledge and skills to evaluate the options and identify those that best suit their needs and circumstances." This course will help students obtain this knowledge and skills.

Learning Objectives
Upon successful completion of Math 034, the student should be able to:

  1. Understand the concept of the time value of money, recognize the reasoning behind the payment of interest and use the simple interest formula to find the principal, interest, simple interest rate, or term of a loan.
  2. Use linear equations, arithmetic sequences and linear functions to analyze interest problems.
  3. Use the simple discount formula to find the maturity value, proceeds, simple discount, simple discount rate, or term of a discount note.
  4. Use geometric sequences and partial geometric sums to understand the concept of compound interest.
  5. Use the basic compound interest formula, exponential functions and logarithms to solve problems of compound interest which entail different compounding frequencies, future values and present values.
  6. Use infinite geometric sums to approximate economic stimulation/impact.
  7. Use mathematical expectation to set interest associated with loan risk.
  8. Use geometric sequences and partial geometric sums to understand the concept of an annuity.
  9. Calculate the future and/or present value of an annuity and an annuity payment using annuity formulas and logarithms.
  10. Use graphical representations and interpretation to understand the concept of amortization.
  11. Understand the structure of state sales tax and federal income taxes, calculate the total taxes owed, and calculate the federal income tax withholding and FICA for payroll deductions.
  12. Use financial formulas and linear equations to calculate dividend rates, dividend yields, compound annual growth rates, and total rates of return for investments in stocks, bonds and mutual funds.
  13. Calculate the employee contribution and employer matching for different retirement plans and calculate the impact of contributions made to traditional and Roth IRAs.
  14. Use geometric sequences, partial geometric sums and linear systems of equations to solve problems which incorporate inflation and make projections for investments that take into account the impact of inflation.
  15. Use geometric sequences, partial geometric sums, linear equations, and exponential decay models to solve problems associated with depreciation.
  16. Calculate credit card interest and compare credit card offers for their annual fees and interest rates.
  17. Calculate the equity, maximum loan amount, and closing costs for a mortgage loan.
  18. Calculate the monthly payment on a lease, given the residual value and interest rate and understand the financial difference between leasing and buying.
  19. Calculate price, cost, percent markup or markdown, gross profit margin and net profit margin.
  20. Understand the concept of cost-revenue analysis and break-even points as it applies to financial problems.

Required Text
Business Math: The Mathematics of Money, Second Edition, by Timothy Biehler.

What if I have never taken an online course before?
This course is taught completely online. We'll use Penn State's course management system, ANGEL, for Math

034, and you will be able to communicate with the professor and your classmates through chat, e-mail, and threaded discussions within ANGEL and the Blackboard virtual classroom.

You do not need to come to campus at any time.

An online course is not easier than an on-campus course. In fact, it takes a lot more self-discipline. You must be willing and able to commit the same amount of time as you would for attending class and studying for a traditional course. You must also be a motivated, organized student who feels confident about reading to learn and who is comfortable working independently.

What are the technical requirements for this course?
To complete this course, you must have the following equipment or capabilities:

  1. Have access to a computer that meets the ANGEL technological requirements.
  2. Be comfortable with navigating the Internet.

Unit Topics


The basics - Time Value of Money

  • Introduce and work with loans and associated interest calculations


Common Investment

  • Work with basic investments such as annuities, stocks and bonds
  • Understand sales and income taxes
  • Introduce retirement planning


Business Applications and Personal Financial Planning

  • Work with inflation and depreciation
  • Consider consumer implications associated with credit cards, mortgages and leasing
  • Consider profit margin and cost-revenue analysis associated with business

Course Expectations
The student will be expected to obtain both a conceptual understanding for the financial objectives and the ability to calculate and manipulate formulas and equations associated with the financial objectives.

The course management system is ANGEL and most correspondence will be conducted here. Students will listen to recorded lectures on each topic, participate in the live online lectures (if it fits into the student’s schedule) or listen to a recording of the live lecture at a later time. Blackboard Collaborate is the web- conference utility where the virtual classroom resides.  This may also be used for more “face-to-face” correspondence with students.  Piazza is a student friendly forum space which will be used for posting questions and general discussions.

Students will also be required to take weekly online quizzes, one unproctored online midterm exam, one proctored online midterm exam, and a proctored online final exam.

The text will be primarily used to tie ideas to concepts and skills together. This will be done through reading the assigned sections and completing the suggested homework problems. Note that the homework problems will NOT be collected and the solutions to the homework are posted online.

Required Equipment and Software

  • TI-30XIIS Calculator or another non-programmable basic calculator (This may be purchased from your favorite vendor).
  • Adobe Reader (free) [Download from Adobe]
  • Flash Player (free) [Download from Adobe]
  • Microsoft Office

Optional Equipment and Software

  • Wacom Bamboo USB Tablet with Cordless Pen (This may be purchased from your favorite vendor).

Students who would like to participate in online tutoring sessions with Penn State Learning should purchase a tablet.

Assessment and Grades
The total number of points for the course will be 300 points, 100 points in each of three areas



Comprehensive Final Exam

100 points

10 weekly quizzes (10 pts ea)

100 points

2 midterm exams (50 pts ea)

100 points

1 proctored exam

Each may be taken twice

First midterm is unproctored


Best score recorded

Second midterm is proctored



% Score




93 -100



90 – 92



87 - 89









77 - 79






60 - 69



0 - 59

0 - 179

Arranging a Proctor
You will need to secure a proctor in order to take the second midterm examination and the final examination. This process needs to be started the first week of class and be completed by the third week of class.  A proctor will not automatically be assigned to you; rather, you must make the necessary contacts to secure a professional who will serve in this capacity.

  1. Contact a person who meets the qualifications and ask him or her to proctor your exam.
  2. Student Services must approve your proctor before any exams can be taken. Please see instructions for securing a suitable proctor. While many proctors will serve on a voluntary basis, you are responsible for paying any expenses incurred in retaining a proctor.
  1. You must complete a Proctor Information Form and submit the completed form with the proctor verification documentation. Note: If your proctor has been previously approved by the World Campus during a prior course within two years, you do not need to obtain verification. World Campus retains proctor information on file for two years.
  2. If your proctor does not meet the required specifications, Student Services will notify you within 5 to 7 business days.
  3. You will need to complete an Exam Request Form that is located on ANGEL. Contact your proctor to confirm the date, time, and location of your exam(s). Complete the form 3 weeks prior to your scheduled exam to allow for processing the request and mailing exams to proctors.
  4. Contact Student Services if you cannot take a scheduled exam.

Deferred Grades
Students who are currently passing a course but are unable to complete the course due to illness or emergency may be granted a deferred grade, which allows the student to complete the course within ten weeks following the end date of the course (as it appears in the Schedule of Courses). Note that deferred grades are limited to those students who can verify and document a valid reason for not being able to take the final examination. For more information, please see Deferred Grade.

Academic Integrity
Academic integrity is the pursuit of scholarly activity in an open, honest and responsible manner. Academic integrity is a basic guiding principle for all academic activity at The Pennsylvania State University, and all members of the University community are expected to act in accordance with this principle. Consistent with this expectation, the University's Code of Conduct states that all students should act with personal integrity, respect other students' dignity, rights and property, and help create and maintain an environment in which all can succeed through the fruits of their efforts.

Academic integrity includes a commitment not to engage in or tolerate acts of falsification, misrepresentation or deception. Such acts of dishonesty violate the fundamental ethical principles of the University community and compromise the worth of work completed by others.

Academic dishonesty includes, but is no limited to, cheating, plagiarizing, 

[…] , facilitating acts of academic dishonesty by others, having unauthorized possession of examinations, submitting work of another person or work previously used without informing the instructor, or tampering with academic work of other students. […] A student charged with academic dishonesty will be given oral or written notice of the charge by the instructor. If students believe that they have been falsely accused, they should seek redress through informal discussions with the instructor, the department head, dean or campus executive officer. If the instructor believes that the infraction is sufficiently serious to warrant the referral of the case to Judicial Affairs, or if the instructor will award a final grade of F in the course because of the infraction, the student and instructor will be afforded formal due process procedures.   From Policies and Rules, Student Guide to the University Policy 49-20.


Based on the University's Faculty Senate Policy 49-20, a range of academic sanctions may be taken against a student who engages in academic dishonesty.  Please see the Eberly College of Science Academic Integrityhomepage for additional information and procedures.

Students with Disabilities
Penn State welcomes students with disabilities into the University's educational programs. If you have a

disability-related need for reasonable academic adjustments in this course, contact the Office for Disability Services (ODS) at 814-863-1807 (V/TTY). For further information regarding ODS, please visit the Office for Disability Services Web site at http://equity.psu.edu/ods/.

In order to receive consideration for course accommodations, you must contact ODS and provide documentation (see the documentation guidelines at http://equity.psu.edu/ods/guidelines/documentationguidelines). If the documentation supports the need for academic adjustments, ODS will provide a letter identifying appropriate academic adjustments. Please share this letter and discuss the adjustments with your instructor as early in the course as possible. You must contact ODS and request academic adjustment letters at the beginning of each semester.

Questions / Concerns
If you have questions or concerns about the course, please consult your instructor first. If further guidance is

needed, you may contact the Director of Online Instruction in the Department of Mathematics, Dr. Stanley Smith, asmith_s@math.psu.edu or (814)-865-7528.