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Our story

“We want to help families approach saving for college in a positive way by providing the expertise and guidance they need to feel confident in their path forward. We’ll dispel the myths, worries and confusion that prevent families from exploring all the possibilities available." - Bob Cole, President & CEO



As an independent collective of nearly 300 private colleges and universities, our purpose now isn’t so different than when we began. We started as a group of private institutions dedicated to helping families with college affordability — what would become Private College 529 Plan in 2003. 

Many families have already saved in our plan. But we know more are still limiting their options based on misconceptions about affordability. So, we expanded our reach to educate families on the realities of private college while supporting them on their journey of saving. Our plan is to help families see that private is affordable and possible — and to dispel any myths that stand in the way. 


Sharing our expertise 

As longtime higher education professionals, we know firsthand how costs and worries about affordability often lead families to limit their options. With our expert guidance, we’re helping families confidently plan their path and save to achieve their dreams.  

We want to provide parents with clear direction from our experts and a unique savings solution that is open and available to everyone. 

And we want people to feel inspired, informed and confident enough to start saving for college. 


Our purpose
So families don’t feel limited when exploring their possibilities for college. 

Our vision
Until every family understands that private college is possible.

Our mission
We’re changing the way families feel about and approach college savings. A clear path, expert guidance, genuine support and a plan to help you pursue the best higher education opportunities for your kids in one convenient place. CollegeWell. 


Meet the team behind CollegeWell

Bob Cole | CEO & President  

Bob is from the part of Maine that’s practically Canada. Seeking warmer temps, he headed to college outside Portland, ME. Over the past 25+ years, Bob has dedicated his career to college access and financing for families with many of those years at American Student Assistance. He lives in Greater Boston with his wife and two kids. And he can tie one mean knot as an Eagle Scout.  


Joanne Dashiell | Chief Marketing Officer  

Joanne jumped into higher ed and student finances right after graduate school. She went on to promote early college planning and saving at several organizations. Before joining the CW team, Joanne was executive director at a consultancy firm. She shares an active household in central MA with her husband, two kids and their rescue pup, Blaze. He’s fond of potato chips. 


Jonathan Sparling, AFC | Director of Strategic Partnerships  

Jonathan started his career in a college financial aid office counseling prospective families. Since stepping off campus, he has worked in the development of financial education content and external partnerships. At home, two kids and a couch potato dog keep Jonathan and his wife busy. Fun fact: Jonathan won the 1996 Little League National Championship.  


Amy Perry | Marketing Communications Manager 

Amy has been writing for parent audiences for years. She’s helped by tapping into her everyday life happily overrun by three kids. She’s pushed the envelope with the interrobang (?!), and she’ll take up arms for the Oxford comma. Amy and her family are from Boston but managed to hang onto their Rs. She’d love to be talked out of getting a dog. 


Kimberly Woolridge | Director of Operations  

From budgets to board meetings, Kimberly is Queen Bee behind the scenes. For over 10 years, she’s been keeping internal processes running smoothly for CW. She likes to think of herself as the “Paper and Pencil Pusher with Personality.” And we totally agree! Kimberly has many loves in her life, including her husband, daughters and two delightful granddaughters.

Board of Directors 2022-2023

Ed Kania
Chair of the Board
Rollins College

Kim Downs-Burns
Vice Chair of the Board
Middlebury College

Thomas Bear
Rose-Hulman Institute
of Technology

Rebecca Vazquez-Skillings
Secretary and Treasurer
Oberlin College

John Latting
Emory University

Phil Levine
Wellesley College

Rakesh Dahiya
Southern Methodist University

Thomas McWhorter
Northeastern University

Mark Heckler
Valparaiso University – Retired

Mary Nucciarone
University of Notre Dame

F. Robert Huth, Jr.
Stetson University

Fred Rogers
Carleton College – Retired

Jason Knoch
Princeton University

Audrey Smith
Smith College – Retired

Ralph Kuncl
University of Redlands – Retired

Tim Warner
Stanford University

Patricia Langer
Macalester College

Lori White
DePauw University

Our 529 Plan

Big on flexibility. Small on risk.

A simple way to save for college. Guaranteed prepaid tuition with no fees and little to no market risk. With us, private college is possible for everyone.