Top

How To Start Investing For College Students - [6 Best Apps]

Nov 01, 2019

So you’re in college… maybe just starting, maybe a few years in, or maybe you’ve even just recently graduated.

Today we're going to discuss how to start investing for college students. 

But how do you know when is the right time to start investing? And even if it is the right time, how can you afford to invest in stocks as a college student with the high costs of tuition, textbooks, and more?

The answer to both of those questions might surprise you. We're going to break down how you, as an everyday college student, can easily get started investing in real companies to start growing your money. We’ll even go over some of the best investing apps for college students to help you get started. 


This article contains affiliate links. To learn more, visit our affiliate disclosure.


Start With The Morning Brew

Today’s article is brought to you in part by Morning Brew, a free daily stock market newsletter that’s informative and easily digestible. The 5-minute newsletter is perfect for anyone looking to increase their knowledge on the stock market and better understand the must-know information on business, finance, and tech. Get free access and become smarter in just 5 minutes today.


 

At What Age Should You Start Investing?

So as a college student, or recent graduate, is it too early for you to start investing? 

While it is true that you are young and have so much time ahead of you in your life, it may seem like you don’t even need to think about investing now. But the very fact you have so much time ahead of you is the exact reason you should start now.   

In fact, if you’re a college student or a recent graduate, investing in the stock market is one of the greatest ways you can build true wealth over time.


The S&P 500 is a stock market index that measures the stock performance of 500 of the largest companies listed on stock exchanges in the United States. As one of the most commonly followed equity indices, many consider the S&P 500 to be one of the best representations of the U.S. stock market’s performance

According to MacroTrends.net, a research platform with decades of historical data, the S&P 500 has averaged a 10% rate of return every year since its inception in 1926.

 



Some years your investments in the stock market will earn more than 10%, some years they will earn less than 10%, and some years you may even lose some money. But the important takeaway is that on average, the stock market has historically given you an annual 10% return on your investments.

 

Investing Is NOT a "Get-Rich-Quick" Scheme

But before you start poppin’ bottles and ordering your lambo there are two things you need to know about investing in the stock market as a young investor: 

  1. Investing is not a “get-rich-quick” scheme
  2. Investing is a long-term process 

I get questions everyday such as how can I make money today or how can I double my money by next week? That’s not investing, that is gambling. 

My goal is to help you, as a college student, get started investing on a path that has much more stable, steady, and consistent growth of your money. 

When you invest in the stock market, your money will grow as the value of the stocks you invest in grow, but your investments can also decrease in value as the stock market fluctuates. 

This is why investing is always best for the long term. In the short term, the stock market may fluctuate up or down but over the long term the stock market has a history of increasing in value.

 


 You can watch my full how to start investing for college students guide in the video below:


 

How Much Money Do I Need To Get Started Investing?

I get it. As a college student with costs of tuition, books, student loans and more, it may seem impossible to even think about investing right now. 

But the truth is, you don’t need as much money as you think to actually get started investing in real companies. You no longer need hundreds or thousands of dollars to get started investing like you needed to have in the past.

Today there are beginner-friendly investing apps that let you get started investing in stocks with as little as $5. So yes, if you can forego that fancy Starbucks Latte Frappuccino for one day, even you can afford to start investing my friend. 

 

So How Do I Actually Get Started?

So now that you know investing is accessible to you as a college student, how do you actually get started investing?

You will get started investing through an investment brokerage (i.e., investment platform or an investing app).

Now while there are more traditional investment brokerages such as Fidelity, Etrade, and Charles Schwab, they are not very user-friendly for college students and new investors. 

Instead we're going to focus on more modern and innovative investing apps that are much easier to use and simpler to get started with. 

 To be specific, we’re going to go over two types of investing apps for college students:

  1. Stock Market Investing Apps  (Passive Investing)
  2. Stock Market Trading Apps  (Active Investing)

The main difference between stock marketing investing apps (Acorns, M1 Finance, and Stash) and stock market trading apps (Webull, Public, and Robinhood) is the following:

  • Investing Apps:  (i.e. slow and steady)
    • More geared towards longer-term investing and allow you to invest in a much more passive manner without having to think about it. 
    • Often times, more diversified portfolios and offer less risk 
    • More stable and steady growth  

  • Trading Apps:  (i.e., high-risk/high reward)
    •  More geared towards shorter-term investing and require much more active involvement in researching and picking individual stocks
    • Often times, less diversified portfolios and offer more risk
    • More potential profit but also more potential loss  
      • One caveat with trading apps is that while their features are more geared towards active stock trading, they can also be used as more passive investing apps if desired.

 

Should I Invest in Stocks?

With both investing apps and trading apps you will usually have access to a selection of individual stocks and ETFs:

  • Individual Stocks: buying shares in individual companies such as Amazon, Google, Starbucks, Walmart, etc. 
  • ETF stands for Exchange Traded Fund - a group / theme of related stocks bundled together. (i.e., tech stocks ETF, financial stocks ETF, retail stocks ETF)
    • Tip: ETFs are an easy way to diversify your investment portfolio and often times offer less risk than investing in individual stocks. 

With that in mind, we’re now going to discuss the four best stock market investing apps and the two best stock trading apps for college students. If you’d like to learn more about any of the following investing apps I encourage you to read my more full in-depth reviews on each one (linked below).

 

Best Stock Market Investing Apps For College Students


1)  Acorns

    1. Most user-friendly investing app for college students with several easy-to-use automation tools to help you invest passively. 
    2. Get started investing with as little as $5  
    3. Invest the spare change from your everyday purchases
    4. Choose from five pre-built and diversified portfolios based on your investing goals
    5. Clean user-friendly app interface for new investors
    6. App features an investing account, a massive cashback portal, a mobile banking account, and an up to 10% cashback VISA debit card
    7. Pricing: no commissions or fees to buy or sell any investments. However, they do offer different subscription levels, with plans starting as low as $1 per month.

▶️ Read Full Acorns App Review



2)  Public

    1. Investing app that makes investing accessible to all by allowing you to invest in slices of thousands of major companies with zero fees.
    2. Get started investing with as little as $5  
    3. Very clean and easy-to-use investing app for college students much like Acorns, but unlike Acorns Public also gives you access to investing in thousands of individual stocks and ETFs (which you cannot do on Acorns).
    4. Invest in fractional shares (slices) of stocks with as little as $5
    5. Earn 2.5% APY interest on uninvested cash
    6. Discover stocks through industry experts public portfolios and themes
    7. Pricing: FREE - Public is a 100% commission-free stock trading app. No monthly user fees, no account maintenance fees, no account minimum balance requirements 

▶️ Read Full Public App Review



3)  M1 Finance

    1. Automates your portfolio and lets you invest in thousands of individual stocks and ETFs with zero fees.
    2. Can buy fractional shares of any individual stock or ETF
    3. Smart portfolio rebalancing feature built-in
    4. $100 account minimum to get started investing
    5. Pricing: FREE - 100% commission-free investing platform. No monthly user fees, no account maintenance fees, no account minimum balance requirements.

▶️ Read Full M1 Finance App Review



4)  Stash

    1. Easy to use investing app that lets you invest in over 250 single stocks and ETFs 
    2. Get started investing with as little as 1 cent.  
    3. Easy to understand terminology for new investors
    4. Can invest in fractional shares of stocks
    5. Versatile app with an investing account, a mobile checking account, and a 10% cashback VISA debit card
    6. Pricing: no commissions or fees to buy or sell any investments. However, they do offer different subscription levels, with plans starting as low as $1 per month.

 ▶️ Read Full Stash App Review



 

Best Stock Market Trading Apps For College Students


1)  Webull

    1. Commission-free stock trading app with access to thousands of individual stocks and ETFs with zero fees.
    2. Extensive built-in stock market data, research, and charts
    3. Paper trading feature (trade paper money to practice before you invest real money)
    4. Advanced order types for automating your stock trades (market, limit, stop loss, stop limit)
    5. $100 account minimum to get started investing
    6. Pricing: FREE - Webull is a 100% commission-free stock trading app. No monthly user fees, no account maintenance fees, no account minimum balance requirements 

 ▶️ Read Full Webull App Review



2)  Robinhood

    1. Commission-free stock trading app with access to thousands of stocks and ETFs with zero fees.
    2. No account minimum to get started
    3. Advanced order types for automating your stock trades (market, limit, stop loss, stop limit)
    4. Can also trade cryptocurrency (Bitcoin, Ethereum, etc.)
    5. Pricing: FREE - Robinhood is a 100% commission-free stock trading app. No monthly user fees, no account maintenance fees, no account minimum balance requirements 

▶️ Read Full Robinhood App Review





How To Grow Your Money ?

At the end of the day, the most important piece of advice I can give you as a college student, or young investor, is to realize you have so much time on your side and to take advantage of it. 

The greatest contributors to building wealth are time and compound interest

Essentially, compound interest means that not only does your initial investment earn interest, but you also begin to earn interest on the interest. This powerful snowball effect is the key to creating true wealth over time.

And the best way to grow your money through compound interest is by establishing consistent investing habits and actually giving your money the time needed to compound and grow. 

It’s never too early or too late to start investing. Whether you are in your 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, or beyond, the best time to start investing is now. 

 

Final Thoughts

There’s never been a time in history where investing has been as accessible to the everyday college student or young investor as there is now. So no matter the amount, do your best to set aside and invest a little money every week, every two weeks, or even every month. Your future self will thank you for it. 

Now if you’re still unsure of which is the right investing platform for you to get started with I encourage you to check out my more in-depth individual reviews of any of these apps.

Likewise, you can also compare any of these apps to today's other top investing apps here.

 

Need help with investing? We can help you find the right investing platform for your financial goals.

COMPARE INVESTING PLATFORMS

Grab Your Free Investing For Beginner's Guide Below! 👇

GET GUIDE

Or Go Back To The Blog 👈

TAKE ME BACK
Close

50% Complete

Two Step

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.