Back in high school I had a lot of friends who I played baseball with, and many of them had dreams of pursuing the sport at the college level so they could eventually move on to the MLB. One friend in particular had offers from many schools, however the schools that offered him a spot on their teams did not offer a scholarship with the spot.

Because of this, he had to reject these offers due to not being able to afford their expensive tuition. Instead, he pursued community college and played there to see if he couldn’t improve and receive a scholarship offer somewhere. Unfortunately, this was the beginning of the end of his baseball career, and it all started with not being able to afford tuition. A sad story, but one I believe is important because it shows how important proper financial planning is for your children.

Many adults are parents to athletic children who have big dreams of playing professional sports. To do so, a majority have to head through college athletics first. Often these college sports careers come with financial scholarships. However, these are not a guarantee, and no parent wants to see their child receive an offer to play in college but have to turn it down because they cannot afford the university’s tuition. This is where financial preparation comes in handy.

Financial Preparation

It’s always better to save money you have before you need it, especially for something as costly as college tuition.

Financial aid is also a great way to lessen the burden of paying for college, but it is not as accessible as it seems. Only about 34 percent of students qualify and receive federal loans from FAFSA. Also, financial aid is dependent on expected family contribution. This means that if your parents or family members are willing to pay half of your tuition, you are only eligible to receive half your tuition in the form of financial aid, and even then that is very rare and can leave you with less money than you need. It’s tough to focus on success when the weight of student loans can weigh you down for years and years after graduation. Because of this, the best way to save for college is with a 529 plan. This plan grows tax free over the course of your child’s lifetime. The reason it’s tax free is because the government understands the cost of college and provides this plan as an incentive in order to encourage the population to pursue higher education. Also, only 5.64% of the growth, not overall value, of your 529 can be considered expected family contribution. This means financial aid is still an option on top of a 529 plan! Even if your child does get a scholarship, perhaps even a full ride from the university, the money in their 529 account can still go towards supplies and equipment such as a computer, housing costs, or textbooks!

Every parent wants to see their kids succeed, and what better way is there to ensure the possibility of success than a strong financial foundation for higher education?

Alternative to Scholarship

That’s where U-Nest can take some of the weight off of your shoulders. U-Nest is a mobile app platform, run by professional financial advisors, which makes it extremely simple to start a 529 plan and help it grow. This helps set up your child for a great future, no matter what their passion in life may be! So, while scholarships are the most effective way of lessening the cost of college, you do not want to risk your child’s future on money that may or may not be guaranteed.

Ksenia Yudina, CFA, MBA

Founder and CEO

Ksenia is the Founder and CEO of U-Nest, the first mobile app that makes it easy for families to save for college. As an entrepreneur and finance professional, Ksenia has focused on alleviating the impact of student debt on families across the economic spectrum. Previously, Ksenia was a Vice President atCapital Group/American Funds, the largest 529 provider in the U.S. In this role, she played a leadership role in helping parents plan and manage their finances, with a focus on the future well-being of their children. Prior to Capital Group/American Funds, she was founder of a residential real estate company. Ksenia earned her bachelor’s degree in finance from CaliforniaState University Northridge, and an MBA from UCLA’s Anderson School of Management.

Mike Van Kempen

Chief Operating Officer

Mike joined U-Nest in September 2019 as COO. He was previously at Acorns, a financial wellness platform, where he spearheaded the analytics and growth initiatives. Mike successfully expandedAcorns’ paid acquisition strategy, adding over 4.5 million investment accounts. Mike began his career in strategy & analytics at Belly, a Chicago-based loyalty startup in 2012. At Belly, Mike led projects that fueled growth across all aspects of the business, growing the customer base from1,000 to over 11,000 merchants, and accumulating a membership of over 2 million customers.Mike holds a B.B.A. in Finance from Loyola University of Chicago.

Steve Buchanan

Chief Technology Officer

Steve has over 20 years of experience in delivering digital innovations in the financial sector. Steve previously orchestrated product architecture and innovation as a Solutions Architect/ Fintech consultant at Union Bank. Prior to Union Bank, he was Chief Architect and Director of Engineering at Calypso, a Silicon Valley startup, where he architected and built multiple financial solutions. He was also Head of Global Integrations at Globe One in Vietnam where he integrated its Peer-to-Peer lending products into core banking solutions. Steve also built the first ever electronic Equities &Equity Options trading systems for Scottish stock brokers Wood Mackenzie (acquired by CountyNatWest). He is a graduate of Edinburgh University.

Peter Mansfield

Chief Marketing Officer

Peter has built an impressive track record in multiple financial industry segments including payments, credit/prepaid cards and lending. He has played an instrumental role at a succession of financial industry leaders, co-founding companies such as Brand3 (acquired by American Express) and PropertyBridge (acquired by Moneygram), and, as the early stage marketing lead at Marqeta (where he was team member number two), BillFloat and WallabyFinancial (acquired by Bankrate).He has helped fast-growth companies reach an aggregate market value of close to $8 billion. Peter holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Angila, UK.

Sonya Kidman

Client Relationship Manager

Sonya Kidman is a Customer Success professional with a decade of experience in advocating for consumer through user research and genuine empathy. Sonya specializes in user behavior and regularly attends national and global training sessions in wellness and people analytics tools. Sonya is a true global citizen was born in Russia, grew up in Israel, lived and worked in Canada and NewZealand. That global expertise along with an undergraduate degree in Sociology from Tel AvivUniversity have helped to shape a bullet-prof Sonya's framework to develop a winning customer strategy.

Frank Mastrangelo

Board Member

One part banker and one part technologist, Frank spent his early days with the Annenberg Foundation and PNC Bank. His career path led him to Jefferson Bank, where he led the build-out of its electronic banking platforms, and where he would forge a powerful alliance with The Bancorp co-founder Betsy Z. Cohen. As President and COO of The Bancorp from its inception in 1999 Frank played a critical role in helping the organization become an industry bellwether for branchless financial services and a global leader in payments. For this, he has become a widely respected fintech expert, and thought-leader. Frank was recognized in 2013 by Banking Innovation, a leading industry journal, as an “Innovator to Watch.” and as one of the innovators shaping the future of banking. Frank is a graduate of West Chester University of Pennsylvania.


College Savings Calculator is a hypothetical tool that demonstrates how monthly contributions, age-based asset rebalancing, and tax savings may impact the long-term value of your account, and do not take into account a portfolio’s underlying investment management fees. Calculations assume the private institution cost inflation is 2.8%, public out of state cost inflation is 3.9%, public in state cost inflation is 2.7%. Portfolio is assumed to have only stocks and bonds. Monthly equity returns are based on the historical data from the 10-year track record of the stock market (SPY). Monthly fixed income returns are based on the historical data from the 10-year track record of the bond market index (AGG). The current college expenses are provided by the Actual account performance may differ due to market fluctuations, changes in recurring investments, and asset allocation. The information provided here is for illustrative purposes only and does not represent actual or future performance of any investment option and is not intended to predict or project the investment performance of any security or index.