Saving for college has never been more important – or seemed more challenging. But the cost of college has soared 1,120% over the past 35 years and shows no signs of stopping.1 While preparing for this growing goal may seem like a challenge, it doesn't have to be a headache.

Whether you use a 529 account or another type of investment account, using ETFs at the core of your portfolio can help bolster your savings.

ETFs and saving for college

  • Low costs; more savings

    Costs add up; using ETFs, which have low costs, can help you keep more of what you earn over time.

  • Returns can grow as tuition costs rise

    With tuition costs rising four times faster than the rate of inflation,2 a college fund needs growth potential. Because there are both US and international stock ETFs, you can build a portfolio designed to grow with time.

  • Potential to save on taxes

    When every dollar counts, the cost of taxes can't be ignored. ETFs are designed to help minimize your tax bill, adding to your savings over time.

  • Diversification simplified

    The key to a successful long-term portfolio is diversification.  Because ETFs offer hundreds of stocks or bonds in one fund, diversification is built in.

  • Easy to use.

    Because ETFs are diversified and generally follow an index, you don't have to worry about doing research on individual stocks and bonds. Take one worry off the table with easy-to-use ETFs.

Tools you can use

Save for college

College Savings Calculator

Wondering how much you should be saving each month to meet projected costs? This calculator can help.

Try the Upromise College Savings Calculator


Sample portfolio for parent saving for colleges

Sample portfolios for parent saving for colleges

These portfolios feature a mixture of domestic and international stocks as well as bonds to balance saving for the future while providing for today.

Compare portfolios


iShares Core Builder

Core Builder Tool

Build a well- balanced portfolio of ETFs that is customized to your needs.

Visit the tool

iShares 529 Plan

iShares 529 Plan

Consider an iShares 529 plan. It's easy to set up and use and is a flexible, tax-advantged way to save for college.

Buying iShares ETFs

Buying iShares funds is easy. Here are some ways to get started:

For more information, visit How to Buy iShares ETFs.

Carefully consider the Funds' investment objectives, risk factors, and charges and expenses before investing. This and other information can be found in the Funds' prospectuses or, if available, the summary prospectuses, which may be obtained by visiting the iShares ETF and BlackRock Fund prospectus pages. Read the prospectus carefully before investing.

Investing involves risk, including possible loss of principal.

Diversification and asset allocation may not protect against market risk or loss of principal.

Transactions in shares of ETFs will result in brokerage commissions and will generate tax consequences. All regulated investment companies are obliged to distribute portfolio gains to shareholders.

The iShares Funds are not sponsored, endorsed, issued, sold or promoted by Barclays, Bloomberg Finance L.P., Cohen & Steers Capital Management, Inc., European Public Real Estate Association (“EPRA® ”), FTSE International Limited (“FTSE”), India Index Services & Products Limited, Interactive Data, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Japan Exchange Group, MSCI Inc., Markit Indices Limited, Morningstar, Inc., The NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc., National Association of Real Estate Investment Trusts (“NAREIT”), New York Stock Exchange, Inc., Russell or S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC. None of these companies make any representation regarding the advisability of investing in the Funds. BlackRock is not affiliated with the companies listed above.


Neither FTSE nor NAREIT makes any warranty regarding the FTSE NAREIT Equity REITS Index, FTSE NAREIT All Residential Capped Index or FTSE NAREIT All Mortgage Capped Index; all rights vest in NAREIT. Neither FTSE nor NAREIT makes any warranty regarding the FTSE EPRA/NAREIT Developed Real Estate ex-U.S. Index, FTSE EPRA/NAREIT Developed Europe Index or FTSE EPRA/NAREIT Global REIT Index; all rights vest in FTSE, NAREIT and EPRA.“FTSE®” is a trademark of London Stock Exchange Group companies and is used by FTSE under license.

The Funds are distributed by BlackRock Investments, LLC (together with its affiliates, “BlackRock”).

The iShares Core Graphic is a registered servicemark of BlackRock, Inc.

The Fidelity Investments Pyramid and Sunburst Design Logo is a registered service mark of FMR LLC. Used with permission.

©2016 BlackRock, Inc. All rights reserved. BLACKROCK, BLACKROCK SOLUTIONS, BUILD ON BLACKROCK, ALADDIN, iSHARES, iBONDS, iTHINKING, iSHARES CONNECT, FUND FRENZY, LIFEPATH, SO WHAT DO I DO WITH MY MONEY, INVESTING FOR A NEW WORLD, BUILT FOR THESE TIMES, the iShares Core Graphic, CoRI and the CoRI logo are registered and unregistered trademarks of BlackRock, Inc., or its subsidiaries in the United States and elsewhere. All other marks are the property of their respective owners.

iS-11581