ASAE submitted comments today to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions in support of legislation 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.

Senate HELP Committee Chair Patty Murray (D-WA) and Ranking Member Richard Burr (R-NC) put out a call in late March for policy ideas on workforce development, with an intention to move forward with bipartisan legislation by early summer. ASAE has endorsed The Freedom to Invest in Tomorrow’s Workforce Act (S. 905), introduced in the Senate by Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Mike Braun (R-IN), to assist Americans as they enter or reenter the workforce and build additional skills, experience and expertise within their field.

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 Senate bill is a companion to legislation (H.R. 2171) introduced in the House by Reps. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA), Fred Upton (R-MI), Dean Phillips (D-MN) and Rob Wittman (R-VA).

“As we continue our economic recovery from effects of the pandemic, S. 905 is especially timely and important,” ASAE said in its comments. “The bill would help Americans afford training and credentials they need to enter careers, find new jobs after a period of unemployment, change careers or advance in their chosen occupations. The bill would also help ensure economic resilience in the future.”