Parents prioritize saving for their children over saving for retirement, paying off a mortgage, taking a vacation, and paying off their own student debt. There is some interesting stats in the survey.

Full Press Release:

U-Nest, the first and only mobile app to help families build, manage, and optimize a tax-free college savings plan, today released the results of their inaugural survey on parents’ attitudes, concerns, and preferences for saving for their children’s college education.

Overall Findings:

  • Parents prioritize saving for their children over saving for retirement, paying off a mortgage, taking a vacation, and paying off their own student debt.
  • While 75 percent of parents believe a debt-free college education will increase their kid’s chances for success in life, nearly 40 percent aren’t saving anything for their kids’ education.
  • Meanwhile, only 20 percent of parents believe their child will NOT need to rely on scholarships, grants, or other external sources of funds for college.
  • Of the parents who are saving for their child’s education, the majority are using a checking or savings account, and only 18 percent are using a tax-free 529 college savings plan. For younger parents (ages 18-35), just 13 percent are taking advantage of saving with a 529 Plan.
  • More than 40 percent of parents age 18-35 are currently paying off student loans, and most parents (61 percent) wish their own parents would have saved more for their education.
  • All of this is leading to parents willing to sacrifice their own needs, with over 60 percent stating they would give up sex for one year in exchange for one year of of free college tuition for their kids.

“We all know saving for college is hard – it’s a huge expense, which is why student debt is out of control (currently at $1.5 trillion) and still growing. This data shows how extreme the problem has become,” said Ksenia Yudina, Founder and CEO of U-Nest. “The fact that parents are willing to sacrifice their own well-being to reduce the cost of college puts into perspective how large this crisis is, and the toll it’s taking on families across the country.”

Parents know saving is important, but don’t have the knowledge or expertise to get started. U-Nest’s study found that parents prioritize saving for their children over saving for retirement, paying off a mortgage, taking a vacation, and paying off their own student debt.

  • For men, saving for their children is their number one priority, while women prioritize saving for an emergency fund. Both genders prioritize saving for their children higher than saving for retirement.
  • The majority of parents (67 percent) don’t have a financial planner or wealth manager to help them plan money matters, which helps explain why 70 percent of Americans haven’t heard of a 529 Plan, the tax-advantaged savings plan that experts agree is the best investment vehicle to save for college.

Financial habits differ between the sexes and take a toll on relationships.
Money is the number one reason parents argue with their partner (above family dynamics, kids, division of labor, and love life).

  • 63 percent of dads believe overspending on expensive and unnecessary toys and other products affect their ability to save for their kids’ education (vs. only 49 percent of moms).
  • More men claim to make the household financial decisions than women (40 percent vs. 32 percent respectively).
  • Dads are more likely than moms to save for their children’s education (70.1 percent vs. 58.2 percent respectively).
  • Nearly two-thirds (64.7 percent) of moms age 18-34 are afraid they’re not saving enough for their kids’ college, compared to half (51.7 percent) of moms over 34.
  • Moms are more likely to say they don’t let money issues impact the way they parent (69 percent of moms vs. 50 percent of dads).

Whether parents are saving for college or not, they’re worried about the future.
More than half (56 percent) of parents are worried they’re not saving enough for their child’s education.

  • Of the parents that are currently saving for college, 35 percent feel they still are not saving enough.
  • Eighty-three percent of parents that are not saving for college still feel they should pay for at least some of their child’s college education; 47 percent expect their children to need grants/scholarships or other external sources of funding.

“Like so many people across the country, I wasn’t prepared for the cost of my education. I graduated with over $150,000 in student loans and was determined to make sure my kids didn’t suffer the same future,” said Yudina. “I created U-Nest to help the millions of American parents who also want to give their children a great education without the burden of crushing student debt.”

U-Nest is the first digital financial advisor to simplify and democratize saving for college with a 529 Plan. In as little as five minutes, parents can establish a 529 Plan through U-Nest, set monthly contributions based on the in-app college savings calculator, track their progress, and easily adjust contributions over time, all from their phones.

U-Nest financial experts optimize plans to ensure money is invested in the smartest way possible based on the plans available, the child’s age, and the parents’ contribution level. Unlike financial advisors that cost upwards of $200 per hour and have complex underlying fee structures that add up to hundreds of dollars in annual broker-dealer commissions, U-Nest’s advisory fee is a simple and transparent $3/ month.

To open a U-Nest account, visit // or download on iTunes.

This survey was conducted by independent research firm Survata on behalf of U-Nest. Survata interviewed 506 U.S. adult parents over the age of 18 between February 4-15, 2019. Complete findings of the survey are available upon request.

About U-Nest
U-Nest is on a mission to help all parents simply and smartly save and grow the money needed to fund their children’s education. With an easy-to-use mobile app that in minutes establishes and manages a 529 College Savings Plan, U-Nest gives families the tools they need to fund a comprehensive education savings plan so their children are free to pursue the education they deserve without being saddled with crushing student loans. The U-Nest team has decades of experience as certified financial advisors, fintech technologists, and entrepreneurs.
The company is based in Los Angeles, CA. To find out more and get started, visit //


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Full U-Nest Survata Report

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.