U-Nest finds 90 percent of parents believe they should pay for their children’s college education; offers three free months of 529 account management to help parents start saving

Los Angeles, CA (April 3, 2019 @ 6am PT) — In honor of National 529 Day, U-Nest, the first and only mobile app helping families build, manage, and optimize a tax-free college savings plan, today announced it will provide three free months of account management to new users who sign up between now and May 29, 2019.


A recent U-Nest study found that 90 percent of parents believe they should pay for at least some of their kid’s college education. Surprisingly, 70 percent of Americans haven’t heard of a 529 plan (which experts agree is the best way to save for college).


While parents want to do all they can to save for their kid’s education costs, U-Nest found that the results are typically less than satisfactory:

  • 40 percent of parents aren’t saving anything for their children’s education
  • More than half (56 percent) of parents are worried they’re not saving enough for their child’s education; of those parents that are saving, 35 percent still feel they are not saving enough
  • Close to half (41 percent) of parents age 18-35 are still paying off their own student loans
  • Most parents (61 percent) wish their own parents would have saved more for their education


“National 529 Day is a great time to take stock of your savings plan and open a 529 savings account to ensure you and your children are financially prepared for college when the time comes,” said Ksenia Yunida, CEO and Founder of U-Nest. “Student debt in America has reached an astronomical $1.5 trillion, with millions of graduates burdened for decades trying to pay off their student loans. As a mom of three young children, I understand the stress of saving for this huge expense, but it’s never too late to get started.”  


U-Nest has compiled the FIVE MUST-KNOWS on 529 plans:  


  1. It’s the best possible college savings vehicle: A 529 has an average annual return of 6-7 percent based on historical data, and each parent can contribute up to $15,000 per year for each beneficiary (or $30,000 for a couple filing jointly). With college tuition rising at 6 percent annually, there is no better way for families to save for their children’s future than investing in a tax-free 529 plan.
  2. Tax-free earnings: All 529 plans grow tax-deferred, and proceeds are tax-free when used for qualified educational expenses, regardless of state. A 529 is similar to a Roth IRA – after-tax dollars are deposited, and all investment earnings grow tax-deferred at both the federal and state level.
  3. Not all 529 plans are created equal: Some states offer additional tax deductions to their residents, but that doesn’t mean that your home state is the best option. Those additional incentives can be offset by higher fees from the plan administrator. When choosing the right plan, families need to look at various other factors including historical returns, investment management fees, broker-dealer commissions, as well as stability and reputation of the investment firm. The team of financial advisors at U-Nest has performed a rigorous analysis to select the best plan for families based on multiple criteria including historical returns, fees, and stability and reputation of investment management firm.
  4. Flexibility: Tax-free investments from a 529 plan can be applied in a variety of ways: tuition, books, room & board, computers, and equipment. And, based on new legislation that passed in 2018, individuals can now apply the proceeds of the 529 plan not only to college-related expenses, but also to schools K-12 (up to $10,000/year). This is great news if your child attends private school.
  5. Parents are in control: Many common investment accounts and custodial accounts are designed for minors, and controlled by the child. With a 529, parents retain control of the account. The beneficiary can be easily switched if a child no longer needs the funds, and the account can also be used for a parent’s continuing education.


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 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 available plans, 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 per month, and will be waived for three months for new users who sign up between now and National 529 Day on May 29, 2019.


For more information, please visit www.u-nest.com to download the app.



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 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 //unest.co/.


Media Contact:

Kat Madariaga



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 collegeboard.org. 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.