Legacy of Learning

For Gabi Zola, saving for her child's education also meant preparing to send another generation off to college. Gabi attended college and her parents before her. Now it was time to pass the torch — and secure a bright future for her child without the burden of debt. Gabi shares how she was able to accomplish this with the help of Private College 529 Plan.

Zola Family

For Gabi and William Zola, family and college go hand in hand. Gabi’s mother and father were both college professors, and she has worked in higher education for nearly 20 years. William’s grandmother was one of the first women to attend the University of Chicago. And both he and Gabi have advanced law degrees.

So, it comes to no surprise that saving for college was a priority the moment their first child, Ruthie, was born. After researching ways to save, they found that Private College 529 Plan checked all the right boxes.

“I loved the Private College 529 model of locking in tuition,” says Gabi. “And there were enough schools in the plan that made it appealing.”

Their daughter is now a sophomore at a participating school, and they’ve been able to cover a portion of tuition and fees for freshman and sophomore year by saving in the plan.


Family meeting

Gabi and William’s biggest goal is to fund their children’s education so they can graduate debt-free. But they knew it wouldn’t be easy and that some tough conversations might be needed.

“Before Ruthie made her college decision, we sat down to discuss finances and school options,” recalls Gabi.

Ultimately, what made the most sense for Ruthie was Pitzer College, a small liberal arts school in California, despite being accepted to her father’s alma mater, the University of Michigan.

“I think it broke his heart a little,” chuckles Gabi.

The family is happy with Pitzer and how much their prepaid tuition has covered. Gabi knows the more you save, the less you’ll have to borrow. “I made the last payment on my law school loans the day we moved Ruthie into Pitzer.”


When the time comes, you’ll have a nice little savings account.


The power of planning

For Gabi and William, early planning paid off – big.

After an initial contribution of $5,000 to their Private College 529 account back in 2003, they watched their prepaid tuition grow each month.

“Set your account to auto contributions,” says Gabi. “When the time comes, you’ll have a nice little savings account.”

Indeed, when it was time for Ruthie to enroll at Pitzer 17 years later, they had saved roughly $32,000.

“My biggest advice is to do your research and start saving early,” says Gabi. “For us, Private College 529 made sense because it took the complexity out of saving.”

Family originally shared their story in January 2023

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