UNest Review: The App That Helps You Save For College

Nick MannBy Nick MannBy Savingforcollege.com

UNest is a simple, user-friendly app that allows you to save for your child’s education through a 529 college savings plan. You can open and manage a 529 plan right through the app, and it includes a built-in gifting platform to help you grow your savings. Since the minimum monthly investment is only $25, UNest is a great option for every budget. Here’s a review and basic overview of this app.

How it Works

UNest allows you to open a 529 college savings plan to help pay for your child (or grandchild's) future college education. With 529 plans, your money grows tax-deferred, and distributions are tax-free when the funds are used to pay for qualified education expenses (such as tuition, fees, books and supplies).

Using the UNest app is simple and straightforward. Everything can be easily managed through your iOS or Android device. Set up an account (which can be done in just five minutes), choose a monthly contribution plan (minimum $25) and start saving.

If you have multiple children, you can easily create separate accounts with varying goals and monthly contributions.

Use a built-in college savings calculator to decide how much money you want to save and how much to contribute each month. You can choose the amount that's right for you based on your child's age, your budget and type of school your child will likely attend.

Best of all, you link your checking account directly to the app, and your saving is automatic every month. So, there's no risk of forgetting or running low on time. This ease and automation will help you stay on track for your savings goals. You can adjust your monthly contribution at any time.

You can see everything right from your phone – account balance, change contribution plans and manage all transactions. Whether you have a newborn or high schooler, it's never too early or too late to start saving, and UNest takes all the guesswork out of how to do it.

Pricing

It costs $3 per month to use UNest (this increases to 0.25% annually for accounts over $50,000). The app offers low-cost 529 plan investment options with an underlying investment fee of 0.4% to 0.6% annually. The minimum investment is $25 per month.

In addition, UNest charges no upfront commission, so 100% of your contributions are invested in your 529 plan. Contrast this to commission-based accounts offered by many financial advisors which may charge upfront commissions of 3% to 5%.

Pros

Tax Advantages: One of the biggest benefits is that the money you save through UNest is in a tax-advantaged 529 plan, meaning your earnings are tax-deferred, and withdrawals are tax-free as long as the money is spent on qualified higher education expenses.

Affordable: Financial advisors can charge hourly rates of around $200 or high annual advisory fees. UNest costs just $3 per month.

Flexibility: It offers a lot of flexibility. Whether you’re looking to save a lot or just a little, you can find a monthly contribution plan that fits your budget. UNest allows individual parents to save up to $15,000 per year and couples up to $30,000 to qualify for annual federal gift tax exclusion. Or you can contribute more (up to $75,000 per parent) through an option called superfunding for the next five years with a one-time deposit.

Safe and Secure: UNest is highly secure and uses bank-level security to keep your information safe. On top of that, they use identity verification services to ensure your data stays out of the wrong hands.

Assistance: You also have access to a team of highly knowledgeable financial advisors who are registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. They help take the mystery out of college investing and simplify the overall process.

Save Faster with Gifts: This feature hasn’t been released yet, but soon you’ll be able to easily receive gifts from grandparents, family and friends to contribute to your child’s college savings.

Cons

The only con, as with any 529 plan, failing to use funds for qualified educational expenses can trigger a penalty. Like any other type of 529 plan, you must only use the money for qualified expenses like:

  • Tuition and fees
  • Books and supplies
  • Computers
  • Room and board
  • Student Loans

That said, UNest has an outstanding rating at the App Store of 4.8 out of 5 and is ideal for parents who want to take the guesswork out of educational investing. Download the app now.

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.


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