A bipartisan group of lawmakers reintroduced legislation yesterday that would allow individuals across the country to use their 529 education savings plans to cover the costs of certain workforce training and credentialing programs.

The Freedom to Invest in Tomorrow’s Workforce Act was introduced by Reps. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA), Fred Upton (R-MI), Dean Phillips (D-MN) and Rob Wittman (R-VA). A companion bill in the Senate is led by Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Mike Braun (R-IN).

“Especially as we rebuild our economy in the wake of COVID-19, we need to make sure Central Virginia students and workers receive the training required to remain competitive and successful,” Spanberger said. “529 savings plans have long ensured that the next generation of Virginia workers can afford a higher education – but students are currently constrained from using these accounts to pay for necessary credentialing programs and exams. Our bipartisan, bicameral legislation would give Virginia students and workers the ability to use their 529 plans to cover tuition, books and testing costs related to these training programs.”

The bill includes new language supported by the Professional Certification Coalition, led by ASAE and the Institute for Credentialing Excellence, that would expand eligible uses of 529 plans to include costs of obtaining or maintaining professional certifications offered by associations for a wide range of occupations. Right now, only colleges, vocational schools, universities or other post-secondary institutions are considered an eligible 529 savings plan expense.

“The Professional Certification Coalition – whose nearly 100 members include non-governmental professional certification organizations, professional societies, and service providers – appreciates Congresswoman Spanberger, Congressman Upton, Senator Klobuchar, Senator Braun and the other original cosponsors’ work to reintroduce the Freedom to Invest in Tomorrow’s Workforce Act,” said Denise Roosendaal, CAE, Executive Director, Institute for Credentialing Excellence, and Mary Kate Cunningham, CAE, Senior Vice President for Public Policy, ASAE. “This important legislation will provide an incentive for families to save money that can be used to pay for job training and for expenses associated with obtaining or maintaining a valuable professional certification or other postsecondary credential. These credentials are highly valuable for individuals seeking to advance in their careers and communicate to the public that certified professionals have met established standards for knowledge, skill, and competency in their fields. We are proud to support this legislation and look forward to working with Congress to ensure its enactment into law.”