The Best Apps to Help You Save Money for College
The cost of college tuition has risen significantly and shows no signs of slowing down. That’s why it’s never too early for parents to start saving for college. Regardless of how old your child is, if you start saving now, it can help reduce or eliminate the need for student loans later on.
We found these fantastic apps that can help you reach your college savings goals even faster. These apps will help grow your college savings.
With CollegeBacker, you can open a 529 college savings plan in under five minutes or connect to some existing plans. What’s great about CollegeBacker are all the simple ways you can grow your savings. For starters, connect your bank account and set up automatic contributions, as little as $5. You can also make one-time contributions when you’d like as well.
The BACKER BUCKS program earns you cash back when shopping through their links from more than 100 retailers and services, including apparel, home goods, and more. Best of all, each child has their own gifting page, so family and friends can easily contribute to their college fund. Family members can give a one-time gift for birthdays or holidays or even make reoccurring gifts.
UNest is a popular app that allows parents to set up a 529 college savings plan and make monthly contributions based on whatever best fits their budget (minimum just $25). Set goals, monitor account balance and manage transactions conveniently through this app. Soon, you’ll be able to receive gifts from grandparents, family and friends to contribute right to your child’s college savings.
Set up multiple accounts if you have more than one child, and use a built-in college savings calculator to decide how much you should contribute each month. Plus, you also have access to a team of highly knowledgeable financial advisors who are registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
Cost: $3 per month, plus an annual investment fee ranging from 0.4% – 0.6%.
The Fabric app doesn’t directly help you save for college, but it can help you protect your child’s financial future. Right from the app, users can find affordable term life insurance that is tailored to meet their needs and budget. You apply right online with an estimated 10 minute application time.
Fabric also allows parents to create a free will and appoint a guardian and beneficiary. Plus, you can manage all of your financial information, such as information on investments, cash and credit cards. This way parents have easy access to all of this information in one place.
For some, the hard part about saving for college is finding the money to do so. Quicken is an app that helps you create a budget. You can connect your existing accounts and automatically categorize spending.
Creating a budget and tracking your money is a great way to save for college. A budget could help trim your spending in some areas, freeing up more money to save for college (or whatever else).
Wealthfront is an automated investment service that offers a few different options. One is to open a 529 plan. A 529 college savings plan allows your money to grow tax-deferred. When distributions are tax-free when used to pay for qualified expenses (i.e. tuition, books, room and board and even student loans).
With this app, parents can set goals and save money based on future projected costs. Wealthfront provides access to in-depth data from the Department of Education to determine how much it will cost once their child starts college.
There’s also the option for a high-interest savings account with an APY of 1.78% — 19x the national average. This can be opened for just $1, with no additional deposit requirements.
Cost: Wealthfront 529 plan all-in fees total a maximum of 0.46%. Savings accounts are free, with no advisory or management fees.
Chime is a mobile online banking app, but also offers an automatic savings program that’s perfect for devoting to college funds. It uses a feature called Round Ups, where it automatically saves the change on every purchase. And when depositing paychecks, it will save a predetermined percentage set by the user.
Chime offers a 1.60% APY, which is well above the national average. They also have no minimum or maximum balance requirements for plenty of flexibility. This makes Chime a simple and convenient app for quickly building up college savings without having to manually transfer money.
Funds are insured by major partners like Members FDIC or Stride Bank, and Chime uses cutting-edge digital security to keep money safe.
Cost: It’s free to use, but there’s a $2.50 for out-of-network transactions.
Here’s an app that offers a mix of both saving and investing. It’s perfect for people who struggle with saving and want to gain more insight into their spending behavior. Qapital is also a great tool for those who are interested in investing but need help getting started.
Users can choose what actions trigger a deposit, create long-term savings goals and use Qapital’s pre-built portfolios to “invest on autopilot.” Options range from very conservative to very aggressive and everywhere in between. This makes it a great option for people interested in reaching major financial goals, like building a college fund.
All Qapital accounts are FDIC insured for up to $250,000.
Cost: Plans range from $3 to $12 per month, depending on the specific features.
This is by no means as robust of a college savings app as the others featured above, but it still deserves mentioning. It revolves around the concept of a “Tip Jar” where users tip themselves for doing something special, like going to the gym or skipping an impulse purchase.
Simply sync a verified checking account, and tips can be made securely without any service or transaction fees. Tip Yourself probably won’t lead to massive college savings, but it can certainly help.
At Savingforcollege.com, our goal is to help you make smart decisions about saving and paying for education. Some of the products featured in this article are from our partners, but this doesn’t influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own.
A good place to start