Happy U-Nest parents are taking care of their kids’ future by saving for education.


Who else is scared AF about paying your kids’ tuition?”

: “Yep! College tuition rates have been increasing by almost 6% year after year, and this pace is not likely to slow down anytime soon. While the increasing costs can be daunting, preparing and saving early is the best way to calm your nerves. Even $25 per month contributed over your child’s first 18 years can make a huge difference. ”


You’re supposed to save for your kid’s college? Oops.”

: “Right on! While some parents rely on financial aid and scholarships, at the end of the day many families end up paying for their children’s education by dipping into their retirement savings, selling their assets, or taking out the expensive student loans. As a result, student debt in the US has reached a historic level of $1.5 trillion! ”

“The best way to secure a future for your children is to start saving early via a tax-efficient savings account called a 529 plan that is federal tax exempt. Starting early and saving a little every month will set you up for success and protect you from making devastating financial decisions.”


Is 529 only for higher education like college and graduate school?”

: “We have a good news! Based on the recent Federal Tax Reform, 529 plans can now be used for K-12 educational expenses up to $10,000 per year. In addition to tuition, the assets of 529 college saving plans can be used for many educational expenses like housing, books, computers, private schools, and even trade schools.”


How do I open a 529 college fund?”

: “The easiest way to open your college savings plan is to use the U-Nest mobile app. We make sure that the process is seamless for you and completely paperless, so you can easily monitor your accounts on the go. It only takes 5 minutes to open an account and get peace of mind about your child’s future.”


Can funds in a 529 be used to buy a car?”

: “Funds in a 529 plan can be applied to a variety of educational expenses including housing, books, and computers; however a car is not one of them. Please remember that if you use 529 funds for nonqualified expenses, you will forego your tax benefits and will be subject to a 10% penalty on the earnings that have accumulated in your account.”


If we live in Los Angeles, is it recommended to sign up in California or does another state have better benefits?”

: “You don’t have to be a resident of a particular state to invest in its 529 plan, and the program with the best benefits is not necessarily the program of your home state. For example, CA does not provide state benefits to its residents. Other states offer additional state tax breaks, but often times those tax benefits are offset by higher fees. The important thing to know is that all 529 college savings accounts are exempt from federal taxation and proceeds can be used toward education in any state or abroad.”


Why is college saving more important than retirement?”

: “While saving for retirement should be one of the most important goals for any person, the time your child goes to college will likely arrive sooner than your retirement. In addition, while many parents have an opportunity to save for retirement through their employer-matching 401(k) plans, many employers don’t match contributions into individual’s 529 plan. Lastly, you can always decide to work longer if you feel that you haven’t saved enough for your retirement; however the time of your child’s college enrollment is not flexible. In fact, 80% of parents said they would postpone their retirement by two years if it helps their children avoid student loans. (2007 online poll by”

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.